Risk factors for impaired oral health among 18- to 34-year-old Australians

Lisa M. Jamieson, Gloria C. Mejía, Gary D. Slade, Kaye F. Roberts-Thomson

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16 Citations (Scopus)


Objectives: The objective of this study was to determine risk factors for a summary measure of oral health impairment among 18- to 34-year-olds in Australia. Methods: Data were from Australia's National Survey of Adult Oral Health, a representative survey that utilized a three-stage, stratified, clustered sampling design. Oral health impairment was defined as reported experience of toothache, poor dental appearance, or food avoidance in the last 12 months. Multivariate Poisson regression models were used to evaluate effects of sociodemographic characteristics, self-perceived oral health, dental service utilization, and clinical oral disease indicators on oral health impairments. Effects were quantified as prevalence ratios (PR). Results: The estimated percent of 18- to 34-year-olds with oral health impairment was 42.4 95 percent confidence interval (CI) 37.7-47.2. In the multivariate model, oral health impairment was associated with untreated dental decay (PR 1.38, 95 percent CI 1.13-1.68) and presence of periodontal pockets 4 mm+ (PR 1.29, 95 percent CI 1.03-1.61). In addition to those clinical indicators, greater prevalence of oral health impairment was associated with trouble paying a $100 dental bill (PR 1.37, 95 percent CI 1.12-1.68), usually visiting a dentist because of a dental problem (PR 1.46, 95 percent CI 1.15-1.86), reported cost barriers to dental care (PR 1.46, 95 percent CI 1.16-1.85), and dental fear (PR 1.43, 95 percent CI 1.18-1.73). Conclusions: Oral health impairment was highly prevalent in this population. The findings suggest that treatment of dental disease, reduction of financial barriers to dental care, and control of dental fear are needed to reduce oral health impairment among Australian young adults.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)115-123
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Public Health Dentistry
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished or Issued - Mar 2010
Externally publishedYes


  • Dental fear
  • Dental service utilization
  • Impaired oral life
  • Perceived oral health
  • Young adults

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Dentistry(all)
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health

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