Approximately 25% of adults in the United States have a disability that limits function and independence. Oral health care represents the most unmet health care need. This population has been found to have decreased oral health outcomes compared with the general population.
The authors used the 2018 adult National Health Interview Survey to assess the association between disability status and dental care use (dental visit within or > 2 years). Disability status was categorized as adults with an intellectual, acquired, or developmental disability (IADD) that limits function, other disability that limits function, or no disability, on the basis of diagnoses of birth defect, developmental diagnosis, intellectual disability, stroke, senility, depression, anxiety, or emotional problem, all causing problems with function.
Adults with an IADD with functional and independence-limiting disabilities experienced higher crude odds of going 2 years or more without a dental visit than adults without disabilities (odds ratio [OR], 2.29; 95% CI, 1.96 to 2.67). This association was part of a significant interaction and was stronger among those with IADDs who could afford oral health care (OR, 1.73; 95% CI, 1.47 to 2.14) than among those who could not afford oral health care (OR, 1.21; 95% CI, 0.88 to 1.67; P value of interaction <.01).
Adults with IADDs have decreased access to oral health care compared with adults with other disabilities or without disabilities. The inability to afford oral health care lessens the impact of disability status.
Dentists can use this study to understand the implications of IADD diagnoses on dental care use and make efforts to facilitate care for these patients.
Dental utilization; dental disparities; disability.