To examine the 13-year trend in annual dental care utilization among the US non-institutionalized civilian population.
Data from the BRFSS from 1995–2008 for adults’ age 18 and older were abstracted and analyzed using the NIDCR/CDC data query system. Point-estimates, confidence-intervals, trends and differences in trends for self-reported annual dental visits by socio-demographic factors and behavioral factor (smoking) were tested with chi-square tests using Stata® (v11).
The overall, median percent of reported dental visits increased marginally (1.3%; p=0.99) from 68.6% (66.2%, 70.9%) in 1995 to 69.9% (69.1%, 71.7%) in 2008. Trend lines remained flat for most age groups except for those aged 65 and older, which showed a steady rise from 58.9% (52.9%, 64.9%) in 1995 to 66.3% (63.9%, 68.7%) in 2008. Disparities in median annual dental visits between non-Hispanic whites and other racial/ethnic groups increased from a range of a 2–7% point difference (1995) to a 7–11% point difference (2008). A higher percentage of women relative to men reported a visit 70.1% (66.9%, 73.2%) vs. 66.6 % (63.8%, 69.3%) in 1995 and 71.2% (69.2%, 73.2%) vs. 67.4% (65.0%, 69.7%) in 2008; trends and differences in trends among gender remained similar over time (4–5%). No meaningful change in reported dental visit by race/ethnicity; income, education or smoking was seen.
Over 13 years, the proportion of persons visiting a dentist has remained relatively constant. Of note is that disparities in dental visits by socio-demographic factors also remained the same over time.