Oral health

Changing dentate status of adults, use of dental health services, and achievement of national dental health goals in Denmark by the year 2000

Journal of Public Health Dentistry
Vol. 64, No. 3, 127-35, Summer 2004
Poul Erik Petersen, DDS, DrOdontSci, BA, MSc (Sociology)
Mette Kjøller, MSc (Psychology)
Lisa Bøge Christensen, DDS
Ulla Krustrup, DDS, MPH



To analyse the current profile of dentate status and use of dental health services among adults in Denmark at the turn of the millennium, to assess the impact on dentate status of sociodemographic factors and use of dental health services in adulthood and in childhood, and to highlight the changes overtime in dental health conditions among adults. Finally, the intention of the study was to evaluate the Danish dental health care system's level of achievement of the official goals for the year 2000 as formulated by the World Health Organization and the National Board of Health.


National representative sample of 16690 Danish citizens aged 16 years and older; response rate 74.2%. A subsample (n = 3818) took part in a survey of dental care habits in childhood and prevalence of removable dentures; 66% of persons selected responded.


Personal interviews were used to collect information on dentate status, use of dental health services and living conditions; data on dental care habits in childhood and prevalence of removable dentures were collected by self-administered questionnaires.

Results and discussion

In all, 8% of interviewed persons were edentulous while 80% had 20 or more natural teeth. At age 65-74 years, 27% were edentulous and 40% had 20 teeth or more; 58% wore removable denture. Dentate status and prevalence of dentures were highly related to educational background and income, particularly at old age. Among persons interviewed, 80% paid regular dental visits and visits were most frequent among persons of high education and income. At age 35-44 years 95% had participated in regular dental care in childhood against 49% of 65-74-year-olds. Multivariate analyses revealed that socio-behavioural factors had significant effects on dentate status. Compared to similar studies carried out in 1987 and 1994 the present survey indicates a positive trend of improved dentate status in adult Danes in general and regular use of dental health services increased considerably by time. The WHO goals for better dental health by the year 2000 were achieved for 35-44-year-olds whereas the goal of more people with functional dentitions at age 65 years or more was not achieved. It remains a challenge to the Danish dental health system to help even out the social inequalities in dental health.


Oral health priority action area