Journal of Korean Academy of Oral Health 2012; 36(1): 73-81
Published online March 30, 2012
Copyright © Journal of Korean Academy of Oral Health.
Ji-Eun Jeon1, Won-Gyun Chung2, Nam-Hee Kim2
1Department of Dental Hygiene, The Graduate School, Yonsei University, Seoul, 2Department of Dental Hygiene, Wonju College of Medicine, Yonsei University, Wonju, Korea
Objectives: This study aims to examine the possible reasons of unmet dental need, considering the
relationship between the socioeconomic and oral health status in Korea.
Methods: The study was designed as a cross-sectional study, using the data of the 4th Korea National
Health and Nutritional Examination Survey. The samples were selected with a stratified clusters sampling
method. The subjects were 8,808 out of 23,478 people, which participated in the health examination
survey and the oral examination. Statistical analysis was conducted using SPSS18.0, according to complex
sampling design. 26 variables reflecting demographic, social and economic characteristics, and an
oral health status, were all examined for a complex sampling frequency analysis. Further, their distributional
differences were confirmed by chi-square analysis.
Results: About 40% of the subjects failed to receive dental treatment when it was required. 'Financial
burden' was the main reason, with the percentage of 39.1%, followed by 'busy with school or work'
(22.4%), 'lower on the priority scale' (15.2%) and 'fear of dental treatment' (12.1%). 'Other reasons' were
5.9%. In addition to this, 2.9% of the subjects stated 'there was no one to help with their children', 1.6%
was 'dental clinics were too far to go' and 0.8% was due to 'poor mobility and other health problems'.
It was observed that younger than 6 years old, especially, seemed to have a high level of fear of dental
treatment. The students due to school and the elderly were concerned with financial burden. Moreover,
low-level educated and low-level income, also have their financial problems as the main reason. On the
other hand, highly educated and those that were better-off, financially, were 'busy with school or work'
as the main reason.
Conclusions: The primary reason for unmet dental need was the financial burden in Korea. Also, it was
confirmed that there were various reasons, according to the demographic, social and economic characteristics,
such as their age, education levels and incomes, rather than oral health status.
Keywords: Access to dental care, Economic burden, KNHANES IV, Sampling complexity, Socioeconomic,
Unmet dental need
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