Inequalities in dental services utilization among Brazilian low-income children: the role of individual determinants

J Public Health Dent. 2011 Winter;71(1):46-53. doi: 10.1111/j.1752-7325.2010.00201.x.


Objectives: To assess the role of the individual determinants on the inequalities of dental services utilization among low-income children living in the working area of Brazilian's federal Primary Health Care program, which is called Family Health Program (FHP), in a big city in Southern Brazil.

Methods: A cross-sectional population-based study was performed. The sample included 350 children, ages 0 to 14 years, whose parents answered a questionnaire about their socioeconomic conditions, perceived needs, oral hygiene habits, and access to dental services. The data analysis was performed according to a conceptual framework based on Andersen's behavioral model of health services use. Multivariate models of logistic regression analysis instructed the hypothesis on covariates for never having had a dental visit.

Results: Thirty one percent of the surveyed children had never had a dental visit. In the bivariate analysis, higher proportion of children who had never had a dental visit was found among the very young, those with inadequate oral hygiene habits, those without perceived need of dental care, and those whose family homes were under absent ownership. The mechanisms of social support showed to be important enabling factors: children attending schools/kindergartens and being regularly monitored by the FHP teams had higher odds of having gone to the dentist, even after adjusting for socioeconomic, demographic, and need variables.

Conclusions: The conceptual framework has confirmed the presence of social and psychosocial inequalities on the utilization pattern of dental services for low-income children. The individual determinants seem to be important predictors of access.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Age Factors
  • Attitude to Health
  • Brazil
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Dental Care / statistics & numerical data*
  • Educational Status
  • Female
  • Health Services Accessibility / statistics & numerical data
  • Health Services Needs and Demand / statistics & numerical data
  • Healthcare Disparities / statistics & numerical data
  • Housing / statistics & numerical data
  • Humans
  • Income / statistics & numerical data
  • Infant
  • Male
  • Ownership / statistics & numerical data
  • Population Surveillance
  • Poverty / statistics & numerical data*
  • Primary Health Care / statistics & numerical data
  • Schools / statistics & numerical data
  • Social Class
  • Social Support
  • Toothbrushing / statistics & numerical data