Abstract

Objectives: To investigate the demographics of children (and their caregivers) requiring hospital-based tertiary dental care, oral health services use and perceptions of and barriers to oral healthcare in Nova Scotia.

Method: A questionnaire was administered to caregivers (N = 62) on behalf of their child (N = 62).

Results: Nearly half (45.8%, N = 27) of the caregivers experienced difficulty seeking oral healthcare for both themselves and their children. Less than a quarter (23.2%, N = 13) of the caregivers sought care for their child by the recommended age of one (mean age of first visit = 2.69 years). Alternate delivery in a school, community or primary healthcare setting was preferred by 53.3% (n = 32) of the caregivers for children's oral healthcare. Low-income families (53.8%, n = 28), rural areas (47.4%, n = 27) and Indigenous children (9.7%, n = 6) were over-represented in the study's sample.

Conclusion: Socio-economically disadvantaged populations are more vulnerable to oral diseases. Oral health of priority populations in Nova Scotia appears to be inadequately addressed.