Barriers to dental services for older adults

Theresa Montini, Tuo Yen Tseng, Helly Patel, Donna Shelley

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objective: To explore barriers to older adults' accessing dental care. Methods: We performed oral exams on 184 community-dwelling older adults; those who needed dental care were contacted 6-12 weeks later to determine if they were able to access treatment. Those who could not access care were interviewed regarding barriers. Results: Of those examined, 89% needed dental treatment. After 6 weeks, 52% had received treatment, 48% had not. Those unable to access treatment had fewer teeth, were more likely to be referred regarding dentures, and were less likely to have a dentist. Reasons cited for not accessing care among the 35 participants we interviewed included a lack of finances, transportation, or assistance in navigating dental service. Conclusions: Older adults have a high burden of oral disease and access barriers remain.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)781-788
Number of pages8
JournalAmerican Journal of Health Behavior
Issue number5
StatePublished - Jun 2014


  • Community outreach
  • Dentistry
  • Older adults
  • Oral health policy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • Social Psychology
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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