A population's utilization of dental services is an important parameter in oral health care planning, which has rarely been studied in China. The objectives of this report were to describe the dental service utilization pattern of middle-aged and elderly Chinese and to analyze the influence of selected variables on the use of dental services. A Guangdong Province population of 1573 35- to 44-year-olds and 1515 65- to 74-year-olds recruited from urban and rural communities was interviewed in their local dialect. It was found that 23% of the middle-aged and 24% of the elderly subjects had visited a dentist within the preceding year. The two most commonly cited reasons for not having seen a dentist for at least 3 years were: no perceived need, and no serious dental problems. Among subjects who had visited a dentist within 3 years, the 3 most commonly received treatments were: fillings, extractions, and dental prostheses. Furthermore, a logistic regression analysis showed that women, subjects who lived in urban areas, were better educated, were wealthier, and had better oral health knowledge were more likely to be a recent dental service user. In conclusion, dental service utilization among the adult Southern Chinese was found to be low, problem-driven, and influenced by some socio-economic factors.
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