J Korean Acad Oral Health.  2012 Mar;36(1):62-72.

Social determinants related to the regional difference of unmet dental need in Korea

  • 1Department of Dental Hygiene, Wonju College of Medicine, Yonsei University, Wonju, Korea. nami71@yonsei.ac.kr
  • 2Department of Dental Hygiene, The Graduate School, Yonsei University, Seoul, Korea.
  • 3Department of Preventive & Public Health Dentistry, School of Dentistry, Chosun University, Gwangju, Korea.


This study aims to examine the regional differences for unmet dental need, while comparing 16 metropolitan cities in South Korea. Further, this study aims to examine the impacts of social determinants, which relates to the regional difference.
This is a cross-sectional study that analyzes the data, of the 4th round Korea National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (KNHANES), in depth, as well as an ecologic analysis investigating each area as an aggregate unit. The data obtained from 24,871 subjects was stratified of 16 cities. The dependent variables were the unmet dental needs. There were 12 variables in social determinant, which have been approached by the social status, the social position, the economic status, the urbanization and access to resources. The sex-age adjusted standardization ratio was calculated and a descriptive statistical analysis was performed to compare the cities. The coefficient of variations was calculated. Social determinants affecting regional differences were analyzed through a multiple regression model. PASW statistics 18.0 (SPSS Inc., Chicago, IL, USA) was used.
The unmet dental need between the 16 cities showed a 1.7 times the regional difference. On the other hand the unmet dental need, due to financial reason, showed a 3.3 times the regional difference. The correlation analysis showed that the unmet dental need was higher in single-person households, in welfarites and in severely deprived areas. The final regression analysis showed that the local deprivation index (beta=-17.19), the ratio of single-person household (beta=3.91), and the number of dentists per 10,000 population (beta=-2.30), were found to be statistically significant affecting the regional differences of unmet dental need (P<0.1).
The unmet dental need in South Korea showed the regional difference, which was affected by the urbanization, the social position and resources of the areas among social determinants.


Age-sex adjusted standardization; Ecologic analysis; KNHANES VI; Regional difference; Social determinants; Unmet need for dental care

MeSH Terms

Cross-Sectional Studies
Family Characteristics
Nutrition Surveys
Republic of Korea
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