Reports 2016/28

Dental health among adults in Sweden and Norway

A Socio-economic Analysis

This publication is in Norwegian only.


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The dental health care system in Norway is two-tier. The public dental health care service is state-funded, and provides dental health care services for patients that are prioritised under the legislation on dental health care. The adult population mainly uses the services of the private sector, where they pay for the services themselves. However, patients who have a particular disorder can have their treatment costs reimbursed. In Sweden, there are three different benefit schemes for the adult population. The first scheme is where everyone gets an annual amount to cover dental examinations and treatment. Second, costs that exceed a certain threshold are partially refunded. Third, there is a refund scheme aimed at people with particular disorders.

Since the organization of the dental health service is fairly similar in Sweden and Norway, but the funding system is quite different, we compare how the dental health, the use of dental services and costs for dental services vary by socioeconomic status in the two countries.

A comparison of the population that used dental services with those that did not use dental services in Sweden during the period 2013-2015 shows an accumulation of benefit recipients and people with low education and low income among those who did not use dental services. This implies that there is an unmet demand for dental services, and that the funding scheme does not sufficiently help those who need the services the most.

The results show that dental health deteriorates with age, while use of dental services increases. The results also show that men have better dental health than women. However, women visit the dentist more often than men. The results also show that benefit recipients and people with low education and low income have poorer dental health and visit the dentist less often than the rest of the population.

Furthermore, the results show that there are socioeconomic disparities in dental health care costs in Sweden. Average treatment costs are highest among those with low education and benefit recipients. Overall, about 17 per cent had treatment costs that were higher than the SEK 3 000 threshold. Fifteen per cent had treatment costs between SEK 3 000 and SEK 15 000 (50 per cent reimbursement), while 2 per cent had costs in excess of SEK 15 000 (85 per cent reimbursement). The proportion with high costs is highest among benefit recipients and those with low education and low income.

A comparison of results between Sweden and Norway shows that the countries’ dental service needs are fairly similar. In both countries, the most common reason for not going to the dentist relates to finances. A comparison of dental health in the two countries shows few disparities for gender, age and various socioeconomic factors, and this is also the case for use of the dental services.

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