Purpose: To describe the use of dental care services in an urban sample of adults from Porto, and to quantify the association between dentist visits and social, demographic, clinical and lifestyle factors. Materials and Methods: Participants were selected by random digit dialling, and interviewed with a structured questionnaire to obtain information on socio-demographic, clinical and lifestyle variables. Crude, and age- and education-adjusted Odds Ratios (ORadj) were computed by unconditional logistic and multinomial logistic regression to quantify the association between the use of dental care and each exposure. Results: In the year preceding the interview, 51.1% of the subjects visited a dentist at least once. Dental visits were less frequent in subjects aged ≥ 70 years compared to those aged 18–29 years (ORadj = 0.66, 95% Confidence Interval [CI]: 0.45–0.98), and increased with education (from 23.8% in subjects with 0–3 school years to 67.9% in those with > 12 years of education, p < 0.001 for trend). The use of dental care services at least once in the previous year was more frequent in white-collar workers (ORadj = 0.69, 95% CI: 0.52–0.91), when a private doctor was the usual source of medical care (ORadj = 1.38, 95% CI: 1.06–1.79) and in those who visited a medical doctor in the previous year (ORadj = 1.96, 95% CI: 1.57–2.45). Diabetics were less likely to seek dental care (ORadj = 0.67; 95% CI: 0.48–0.93). Conclusion: Nearly half the adults from Porto had not visited a dentist in the previous year. Education was the factor most strongly associated with dentist attendance. No differences were observed regarding the determinants of one or two or more dental visits in the previous year.
Keywords: dental care, epidemiology, oral health, Portugal