The aim of this study was to achieve an understanding of older people’s view of the benefits of regular dental care and investigate factors that facilitate and impede regular dental care.
A qualitative research method was used. To gain a deeper understanding of the elderly people’s views, individual interviews were conducted. Fifteen respondents, eleven women and four men aged between 65 and 95, participated, all recruited from senior social centres. All interviews were tape-recorded and transcribed verbatim, and the content analysis method was then used. Meaning units were identified and condensed into codes which were labelled and grouped into categories and subcategories.
Findings were grouped into three categories: experiences of dental care, obstacles and facilitators to dental care and about oral health and responsibility. The elderly had experience of both regular and irregular dental care. Obstacles to visiting dental services included high costs and complicated dental insurance, other practical obstacles, lack of confidence in dentistry and seeing no benefits of dental care at their age. Views of the importance of oral health varied, and some people thought poor teeth were shameful. Some expressed that oral health was your own responsibility, while others thought that oral health was the responsibility of the dental services.
Several factors which hamper regular dental care have been identified, and taken together, these obstacles often became unsurmountable. However, individuals taking their own responsibility for their dental status and dental services making certain adaptations, both encourage people to seek regular dental care.