Periodontal disease is highly prevalent and contributes to the global burden of chronic diseases. Inherent and institutional inequities contribute to the prevalence of periodontal disease by facilitating barriers to accessing dental care and maintaining good oral health. The aim of this paper is to review the inequities experienced in the dental field in relation to periodontal disease. Barriers to dental care are experienced in many countries globally. They include cost, insurance coverage, geography, physician availability, and oral health literacy. These barriers influence the frequency of dental visits, oral hygiene, and risk behaviors of individuals which impact an individual’s oral health status. Most often, postponed or improper dental care leads to worsened dental conditions that are more costly and detrimental to one’s wellbeing. These dental conditions, like periodontitis, fall back on the health care system for treatment through emergency department resource use and comorbidities that can develop or be worsened as a result. To reduce the global burden of chronic disease and the costs of treatments for preventable conditions, and increase oral health, corrective actions are required. Such actions may include the use of teledentistry, greater oral health education, emergency departments staffing dental practitioners, subsidies for rural or remote dental practitioners, and policy changes for universal coverage of basic dental needs.
Keywords: accessibility, barriers to care, health care systems, oral disease, treatment, wellbeing