Codes and Frequencies
For sample adults and sample children ages 1 to 17, DENTINT indicates the length of time since the person has last seen someone for dental care. The definition of dentist remained similar over time, although changes in the question wording may reduce comparability. Please see the universe tab for changes to the universe over time prior to 2019. For related variables about access to dental care, please see DELAYDT (delayed getting dental care, past 12 months) and YBARDENTAL (needed but couldn't afford dental care, past 12 months).
For 1969 to 1989, the survey text specifically asked respondents about visits to dentists only. However, the Field Representative's Manual for 1969 to 1989 noted that a dentist included "A person who has been trained in ["who is concerned with" in 1969] the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of diseases of the teeth and adjacent tissues." The Manuals noted various types of dental care professionals (the specific types changed over time), including oral surgeons, endodontists, orthodontists, periodontists, prosthodontists, dental hygienists, and a dentist in a general practice. In 1988, interveiwers asked when the sample child had last seen someone for dental care. For 1997 forward, the survey text specifically stated that respondents should consider all types of dentists, such as orthodontists, oral surgeons, and all other dental specialists, as well as dental hygienists when answering the question.
For 1969-1989, persons who had seen a dentist in the past 2 weeks were assigned a code indicating they had seen a dentist in the past two weeks and were not asked this question.
For 1969-1989, proxy reporting was allowed: the sample person answered questions for all household family members. According to the 2019 Sample Child Codebook, "answer categories of times longer than the sample child's age were not eligible to be selected." In addition to these changes, the universe for this question changed over time; see the comparability tab for details.
Changes to the universe and response categories affect the comparability of the variable over time. Substantial questionnaire changes introduced in 2019 may also affect comparability with earlier years.
The NHIS questionnaire was substantially redesigned in 2019 to introduce a different data collection structure and new content. For more information on changes in terminology, universes, and data collection methods beginning in 2019, please see the user note.
- 1969: Persons who had not seen a dentist in the past two weeks.
- 1970-1981: Persons 1 year and older who had not seen a dentist in the past two weeks.
- 1983: Persons 1 year and older who had not seen a dentist in the past two weeks.
- 1986: Persons 2 years and older who had not seen a dentist in the past two weeks
- 1988: Sample persons age 3 to 17.
- 1989: Persons 2 years and older who had not seen a dentist in the past two weeks
- 1997-2000: Sample adults age 18+ and sample children age 2 to 17.
- 2001-2018: Sample adults age 18+ and sample children age 1 to 17.
- 2019-2022: Sample adults age 18+ and sample children age 1 to 17.
- 1969-1981, 1983, 1986, 1988-1989, 1997-2020, 2022