The dynamics of toothache pain and dental services utilization: 24-month incidence.

Academic Article


  • OBJECTIVES: The aims of this study were twofold: (1) to describe patterns of change in reported toothache pain, and (2) to examine the impact of toothache pain on dental care utilization and vice versa. METHODS: Data from the Florida Dental Care Study (FDCS), a longitudinal study of oral health and dental service utilization conducted in north Florida, were used to measure self-reported toothache pain among dentate adults at baseline and four subsequent times during a 24-month period. Only persons 45 years of age or older with at least one remaining natural tooth at baseline were eligible. A total of 873 subjects participated, 764 of whom participated through 24 months. The analysis is focused on modeling transitions in the reported experience of toothache pain during intervals of six months. RESULTS: At the time of the baseline interview, 11.5 percent of subjects reported current toothache pain. During subsequent six-monthly interviews, from 13.4 percent to 21.6 percent of subjects reported having experienced toothache pain during the prior six-month interval. Among those with no toothache pain at baseline (n = 772), 31.2 percent experienced toothache pain at some time during the 24-month study period. The six-month incidence probability reflects the likelihood of developing toothache pain by estimating the conditional probability of reporting a toothache in a later interval given that this problem was not reported in the earlier one (for consecutive pairs of intervals). Overall, the six-month incidence probability for toothache pain in this study was. 11. Significantly higher 24-month incidence was observed for African-American subjects, those with less formal education, those in poorer financial circumstances, and problem-oriented dental attenders. CONCLUSIONS: In this diverse sample of adults, toothache pain occurs frequently and is quite variable overtime. Toothache occurs in conjunction with various forms of self-reported oral disease (e.g., abscess, cavities) or tissue damage (e.g., loose tooth, broken tooth, bleeding gums). Subjects who experience toothache are slightly more likely than others to utilize dental services in the time period proximate to the toothache pain.
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    Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Author List

  • Duncan RP; Gilbert GH; Peek CW; Heft MW
  • Start Page

  • 227
  • End Page

  • 234
  • Volume

  • 63
  • Issue

  • 4