Factors associated with the utilization of community dental services among newly incarcerated adults

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Journal of the Georgia Public Health Association

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Background: Given the high rates of risky behaviors and health conditions among incarcerated individuals and the relationship between oral and general health, receipt of quality dental care is essential to the overall health and well-being of this population. However, few recent studies have focused on access to care and the state of oral health among incarcerated populations in the U.S. For the current study, a secondary data analysis was conducted to: 1) assess factors associated with the use of dental services among a newly incarcerated prison population in Georgia and 2) consider barriers related to utilization of dental services pre- to post-release.

Methods: Descriptive statistics were calculated, and bivariate and logistic regression analyses were conducted utilizing SAS 9.2 software.

Results: Thirty-one percent (n=250) of survey respondents reported having a dental visit within the past year. Survey respondents who had a regular dentist (OR: 1.9; 95% CI: 1.325, 2.697), private dental insurance (OR: 1.5; 95% CI: 1.022, 2.245), or who reported pain as the reason for their last dental visit (OR: 2.2; 95% CI: 1.556, 3.130) were more likely to have utilized dental services within the past year.

Conclusions: The findings highlight the role of social and economic resources and oral health needs on utilization of dental services. Additional practice and policy efforts are needed to address gaps in the dental care continuum that affect currently and formerly incarcerated adults in Georgia.