Geographical accessibility to dental care in the Japanese elderly

Community Dent Health. 2011 Jun;28(2):128-35.


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.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Age Factors
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Cohort Studies
  • Dental Care*
  • Dental Clinics
  • Dentists
  • Dentition
  • Female
  • Geriatric Assessment
  • Health Services Accessibility / classification*
  • Homebound Persons
  • Humans
  • Income
  • Independent Living
  • Japan
  • Male
  • Marital Status
  • Mental Health
  • Prospective Studies
  • Sex Factors
  • Social Class
  • Tooth Loss / classification