Objective: The current research aims to clarify the factors relevant to elderly people's access to dental care in Japan, particularly focusing on geographical accessibility.
Methods: The sample was taken from among the Japanese elderly, aged 65 and over, who responded to a postal survey conducted in 2003 (n = 2,192). Six types of geographical accessibility to the dental clinics were calculated using Geographic Information Systems. Logistic regression analysis was conducted using 'having a regular dentist' as a dependent variable and geographical accessibility as an explanatory variable.
Results: The results showed an association between having a regular dentist and geographical accessibility only for females. In the univariate model, distance to the closest dental clinics (OR = 0.62 (95% CI: 0.43-0.90)), number of dental clinics at the school district level (OR = 1.14 (95% CI: 1.03-1.26)), number of dental clinics at the municipality level (OR = 1.02 (95% CI: 1.00-1.05)), and density distribution of dental clinics (OR = 1.56 (95% CI: 1.11-2.19)) showed significant relations with having a regular dentist. After controlling for demographic, socioeconomic, and health related variables, only the density distribution of dental clinics showed significant relations at the 5% level, although distance and number of dental clinics kept a marginal significance.
Conclusion: The current study verifies that geographical accessibility correlates with access to dental care among women, and that there were large gender differences concerning the issue of geographical access.