Oral health inequality in Canada, the United States and United Kingdom

Malini Chari, Vahid Ravaghi, Wael Sabbah, Noha Gomaa, Sonica Singhal, Carlos Quiñonez

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)


The objective of this study was to quantify the magnitude of absolute and relative oral health inequality in countries with similar socio-political environments, but differing oral health care systems such as Canada, the United States (US), and the United Kingdom (UK), in the first decade of the new millennium. Clinical oral health data were obtained from the Canadian Health Measures Survey 2007-2009, the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey 2007-2008, and the Adult Dental Health Survey 2009, for Canada, the US and UK, respectively. The slope index of inequality (SII) and relative index of inequality (RII) were used to quantify absolute and relative inequality, respectively. There was significant oral health inequality in all three countries. Among dentate individuals, inequality in untreated decay was highest among Americans (SII:28.2; RII:4.7), followed by Canada (SII:21.0; RII:3.09) and lowest in the UK (SII:15.8; RII:1.75). Inequality for filled teeth was negligible in all three countries. For edentulism, inequality was highest in Canada (SII: 30.3; RII: 13.2), followed by the UK (SII: 10.2; RII: 11.5) and lowest in the US (SII: 10.3; and RII: 9.26). Lower oral health inequality in the UK speaks to the more equitable nature of its oral health care system, while a highly privatized dental care environment in Canada and the US may explain the higher inequality in these countries. However, despite an almost equal utilization of restorative dental care, there remained a higher concentration of unmet needs among the poor in all three countries.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0268006
Pages (from-to)e0268006
JournalPLoS ONE
Issue number5 May
Publication statusPublished - May 2022


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