Differences in estimates of dental treatment needs and workforce requirements between the standard normative need (WHO model) and sociodental approach to assessing dental need
Background. Most dental planners use the normative approach for dental workforce planning. An alternative, the sociodental approach of need assessments has been developed to assess dental needs. Studies indicate large differences in needs assessed using the two methods.;Objectives. To assess and compare dental needs and manpower required for dental care of a sample of adult Koreans aged 30 to 64 years using the normative and the sociodental need approaches for three dental treatments restorative, prosthetic and periodontal treatments.;Methods. Assessments of dental needs and time required to treat using two approaches were based on analysis of data obtained from a sub-sample of 1029 30-64 year-old-adults from the 2003 Korean National Oral Health Survey. They were clinically examined for normative needs and interviewed using an Oral Health Related Quality of Life (OHRQoL) measure and their oral health related behaviours to assess propensity. Two needs methods were generated: 1. Normative Need (NN) defined by dental professionals 2. Socio-Dental Approach (SDA) that includes Impact-Related Needs (IRN) using an OHRQoL measure, OIDP, and Propensity-Related Needs (PRN). Amount of dental needs, time to treat, and numbers of dentists needed per 100,000 people were estimated for restorative, prosthetic, and periodontal treatments using NN, IRN and PRN.;Results. Significant differences of about 72% existed between estimates of need for prosthetic treatment using NN and IRN. In workforce estimates, the differences in dentists required to treat 100,000 people were 87.1 dentists would be needed using NN compared to 22.8 dentists for IRN and 18.9 for PRN for prosthetic treatment 22.5 dentists using NN compared to 15.9 or 2.7 using PRN for periodontal treatment and 8.8 dentists using NN compared to 6.6 for PRN for restorative treatment.;Conclusions. The socio-dental approach for assessing dental needs found lower levels of treatment need than the normative approach. The socio-dental approach should be applied to dental workforce planning.