Japanese Study Finds That Economic Consequences of The Covid-19 Pandemic Could Lead to Oral Health Inequalities

Study is Published in JDR Clinical & Translational Research  

Alexandria, VA – May 10, 2022 — Researchers in Japan have found that economic hardships brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic may lead to oral health inequalities; the study, COVID-19 Effects on Income and Dental Visits: A Cross-sectional Study, was published today in JDR Clinical & Translational Research

An online, self-reported cross-sectional survey about health activities, including dental visits, during the first COVID-19 state of emergency was conducted in Osaka, Japan (June 23 to July 12, 2020). 

Among participants with toothaches, the assessment for the association between ‘refrained from visiting a dentist despite wanting treatment for toothache during the state of emergency (refrained treatment)’ and income changes before and after the state of emergency using a multivariate Poisson regression model was adjusted for sex, age, self-rated health, frequency of regular dental visits, and employment status.

Among 27,575 participants, 3,895 (14.1%) had toothaches and 1,906 (6.9%) reported that they refrained from seeking treatment. Among people with decreased incomes (n=8,152, 29.6% of overall participants), the proportions of the refrained treatment group were 8.0% (income decreased by 1–49%), 9.9% (50–99% decreased), and 9.1% (100% decreased). 

Among participants with toothache, after adjusting for all variables and compared with participants with no income change, we observed significantly higher prevalence ratios (PRs) for
refrained treatment in those who experienced a decreased income owing to COVID-19.

The authors concluded that decreased income was associated with refrained dental
treatment during the COVID-19 state of emergency in Osaka, Japan. The economic damage related to the COVID-19 pandemic could lead to oral health inequalities.

The study’s authors are Shihoko Koyama, Cancer Control Center, Osaka International Cancer Institute; Jun Aida, Department of Oral Health Promotion, Graduate School of Medical and Dental Sciences, Tokyo Medical and Dental University; Yasushi Mori, Department of Public Health and Medical Affairs, Osaka Prefectural Government; Sumiyo Okawa, Institute for Global Health Policy Research, Bureau of International Health Cooperation, National Center for Global Health and Medicine; and Isao Miyashiro, Cancer Control Center, Osaka International Cancer Institute.

View a PDF for this press release online.

About the JDR Clinical & Translational Research
The JDR Clinical & Translational Research is a quarterly publication. This peer-reviewed journal is dedicated to publishing original dental, oral and craniofacial research at the interface between discovery science and clinical application with the translation of research into healthcare delivery systems at the individual patient, clinical practice and community levels. The JDR CTR has been accepted for inclusion in MEDLINE. Follow the JDR CTR on Twitter @JDRClinTransRes.

The International Association for Dental Research (IADR) is a nonprofit organization with over 10,000 individual members worldwide, with a mission to drive dental, oral and craniofacial research for health and well-being worldwide. The American Association for Dental, Oral, and Craniofacial Research (AADOCR) is the largest Division of IADR with 3,000 members in the United States. To learn more, visit www.iadr.org.