LU survey finds over half elderly residents refuse dental treatment due to high cost

A recent community survey conducted by Jockey Club Age-friendly City Project Ambassadors, with assistance of LU, reveals that 76 per cent of elderly respondents report having dental diseases, while more than half (55%) have refused dental care because they found them unaffordable.


In collaboration with the Hong Kong Christian Service Shun Lee Neighbourhood Elderly Centre (Kwun Tong District) and the Hong Kong Young Women's Christian Association’s Ellen Li District Elderly Community Centre (North District), the Jockey Club Age-friendly City Project professional support team from LU has launched the “Jockey Club Age-friendly City Project - Small Changes in the Community, Big Improvement in Age-friendliness” project. Under this initiative, elderly residents are trained to become Project Ambassadors to understand the community’s needs, as well as formulate and implement action plans to enhance age-friendliness in the community.


With the support of the elderly centres’ social workers and the LU professional support team, the Project Ambassadors carried out an evaluation survey and public education activities on dental care. A total of 534 respondents living in Kwun Tong District and North District were interviewed between November 2022 and January 2023 in street surveys, seminars and online questionnaires, over 90 per cent aged 60 or more.


Results show that over 70 per cent (76%) of elderly respondents claimed to suffer from dental disease. Their main three oral health problems were sensitive teeth (42.7%), dental erosion (31.4%) and dental caries (30.9%). About 50 per cent of respondents mentioned they neglect the illness or treat the disease through self-care (46.8%) In general, 56 per cent of the respondents cited the reasons for the neglect of dental sickness, due to unaffordable treatment cost (56.1%), lack of access to dental care (14.5%), or not being used to regular dental check-ups (14.3%). However, these problems have a negative impact on their daily life, and more than 50 per cent of the respondents (51.8%) said that their sleep has been affected by toothache over the past year. In the North District, nearly half of the respondents (47%) said that oral problems adversely affect their self-esteem.



From November 2022 to January 2023, Age-friendly City Ambassadors from Kwun Tong District organised street booths to collect views on community dental health services. A total of 230 questionnaires were collected. (Photo Credit: Hong Kong Christian Service Shun Lee Neighbourhood Elderly Centre)


Click here to find out more about the study.