Oral health care utilization by US rural residents, National Health Interview Survey 1999

J Public Health Dent. Summer 2003;63(3):150-7. doi: 10.1111/j.1752-7325.2003.tb03493.x.


Objective: To compare the dental care utilization practices of rural and urban residents in the United States.

Methods: Data on dental care utilization from the 1999 National Health Interview Survey for persons 2 years of age and older (n=42, 139) were analyzed by rural/urban status. Percentages and 95 percent confidence intervals were calculated to produce national estimates for having had a visit in the past year, the number of visits, reasons given for last dental visit and for not visiting a dentist, unmet dental needs, and private dental insurance.

Results: Rural residents were more likely to report that their last dental visit was because something was "bothering or hurting" (23.3% vs 17.6%) and that they had unmet dental needs (10.1% vs 7.5%). Urban residents were more likely to report having a dental visit in the past year (57.7% vs 66.5%) and having private dental insurance (32.7% vs 37.2%), compared to rural residents. There were no significant differences in most reasons given for not visiting the dentist between rural and urban respondents.

Conclusion: Dental care utilization characteristics differ between rural and urban residents in the United States, with rural residents tending to underutilize dental care.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Confidence Intervals
  • Dental Care / statistics & numerical data*
  • Ethnicity / statistics & numerical data
  • Female
  • Health Services Accessibility / statistics & numerical data
  • Humans
  • Insurance, Dental / statistics & numerical data
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Needs Assessment / statistics & numerical data
  • Poverty / statistics & numerical data
  • Rural Health Services / statistics & numerical data*
  • United States
  • Urban Health Services / statistics & numerical data