NCLR researchers and affiliates have found dental treatment inequalities among patients at New Zealand's only School of Dentistry. University of Otago researchers audited data for all treatments provided at the Faculty of Dentistry from 2006 to 2011 for patients born prior to 1990.
The researchers found ethnic and socioeconomic inequalities in the provision of dental extractions, endodontic treatment, crowns, and preventive care. After controlling for SES, age, and sex, Māori 1.8 greater odds of having had a tooth extracted than NZ European patients, while Pacific Islanders had 2.1 times the odds. Low-SES patients had 2.4 times greater odds of having had a tooth extracted than high-SES patients, and beneficiaries had 2.9 times the odds. Conversely, these groups were less likely to have had a tooth treated with a crown or endodontics or receive preventive care.
The research highlights a need for a strategy to monitor changes in treatment inequality over time which includes improving equity in service care provision. The observed treatment inequalities are likely to be an underestimate of those occurring in private dental practice in New Zealand.