Open Access Highly Accessed Research article

The potential oral health impact of cost barriers to dental care: findings from a Canadian population-based study

Brandy Thompson1*, Peter Cooney2, Herenia Lawrence1, Vahid Ravaghi3 and Carlos Quiñonez1

Author Affiliations

1 Discipline of Dental Public Health, Faculty of Dentistry, University of Toronto, Toronto, ON, Canada

2 Office of the Canadian Oral Health Advisor, Public Health Agency of Canada, Ottawa, ON, Canada

3 Oral Health & Society Research Unit, Faculty of Dentistry, McGill University, Montreal, QC, Canada

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BMC Oral Health 2014, 14:78  doi:10.1186/1472-6831-14-78

Published: 25 June 2014



Prior to the 2007/09 Canadian Health Measures Survey, there was no nationally representative clinical data on the oral health of Canadians experiencing cost barriers to dental care. The aim of this study was to determine the oral health status and dental treatment needs of Canadians reporting cost barriers to dental care.


A secondary data analysis of the 2007/09 Canadian Health Measures Survey was undertaken using a sample of 5,586 Canadians aged 6 to 79. Chi square tests were conducted to test the association between reporting cost barriers to care and oral health outcomes. Logistic regressions were conducted to identify predictors of reporting cost barriers.


Individuals who reported cost barriers to dental care had poorer oral health and more treatment needs compared to their counterparts.


Avoiding dental care and/or foregoing recommended treatment because of cost may contribute to poor oral health. This study substantiates the potential likelihood of progressive dental problems caused by an inability to treat existing conditions due to financial barriers.

Dental; Socioeconomic factors; Healthcare disparities; Dental care needs; Socio-demographic/economic factors; Health policy