Methods: Data were drawn from 2,176 older Korean Americans (M/SD=73.4/7.97) who were surveyed in five states (CA, NY, TX, HI, and FL) during 2017−2018. Poisson regression model examined predictors of dental visit in the past 12 months, focusing on predisposing variables (age, gender, marital status, education, and region), oral health needs (problems with teeth or gums and self-rated oral health), and enabling variables (dental health insurance, length of stay in the U.S., acculturation, and family network).
Results: More than 21% of the sample reported having a problem with teeth or gums, and over half rated their oral health as either fair or poor. Approximately 71% lacked dental health insurance. The number of dental visits in the past 12 months averaged 1.40 (SD = 1.74), with about 38% having no dental visits at all. Multivariate analyses showed that higher levels of education, the presence of a problem with teeth or gums, dental health insurance coverage, longer length of stay in the U.S., and larger family networks were associated with 1.01 to 1.35 times higher number of dental visits.
Conclusions and Implications: Supporting the proposed hypotheses, our analyses showed significant contributions of dental insurance coverage, length of stay in the U.S., and family network in predicting dental service use. The findings not only confirmed the critical role of dental health insurance as a service enabler but also highlighted the importance of considering older ethnic immigrants’ oral health and dental care from the perspectives of culture and family. Interventions to promote older ethnic immigrants’ dental service use should target those who are in an early stage of immigration and who lack dental health insurance, and should incorporate family components.