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Dental care of institutionalized elderly in Singapore



Previous studies have identified considerable barriers to dental care and unmet dental needs among institutionalized elderly. This study examined physical and financial arrangements for dental care of institutionalized elderly in Singapore. Chief administrators of the 68 homes for the elderly in Singapore were interviewed. Results showed that 48 homes (70.7%) assumed responsibility for arranging dental care and providing access to treatment facilities for its ambulant residents while only 33 homes (48.5%) had similar arrangements for semi- and non-ambulant residents. Four of the homes (5.9%) reported having in-house dental facilities while the rest arranged for its residents to be treated either in public dental facilities (44.2%) or in private dental offices (20.6%). Type of sponsorship of the homes and ambulatory status were closely associated with the type of arrangement for dental care. Over 64.6% of homes (44) required residents to be fully responsible for the costs of their dental care. The availability of subsidies for residents' dental costs was found to be associated with the type of sponsorship and type of arrangement for care. Lack of physical access and financial constraints were found to be potential problems in the utilization of dental services in this population group.

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