Inequality of the Teeth

Poorer Koreans have fewer teeth.

Inequality of the Teeth

Credit: Public domain.

Inequality often shows in personal health. In South Korea, oral health is often the starkest indicator of inequality, according to a recent article by Kim Won-jin 김원진 and Song Yun-gyeong 송윤경 at Kyunghyang Shinmun 경향신문.

Although Korea boasts an excellent single-payer national health insurance which covers approximately 64% of all costs of medical care, the national health insurance only covers 32% of dental care, making it prohibitively expensive for those with low income to visit a dentist.

Among seniors over 65 years of age, the average number of teeth for the top 20% in income was 20.6, while the bottom 20% in income only had 15 teeth on average. Among children under 18, only 5.9% of the top 20% in income had never visited the dentist; for children in the bottom 20% in income, the percentage was 16.9%.

The COVID-19 pandemic is likely to make this inequality worse, as it adds another reason not to visit the dentist.

Share Tweet Send
You've successfully subscribed to The Blue Roof
Great! Next, complete checkout for full access to The Blue Roof
Welcome back! You've successfully signed in
Success! Your account is fully activated, you now have access to all content.