The first aim was to study how oral health care delivery was organized in member countries and to determine whether there were differences across the Barents region. The second aim was to assess the performance of the care provision systems. The Barents region is one of the largest hinterlands in northern Europe.
Descriptions of the oral health care provision systems in Norway, Sweden, Finland and Russia were written. Performance of the care provision systems was assessed by evaluating access to and use of services in relation to oral health.
National statistics, governmental reports and scientific publications were used as data sources. Data were supplemented by sending questioning to national and local managers and experts. Inter- and intra-country comparisons included dental health status, service availability and restrictions, financial support for oral health care, availability of dental personnel and use of services.
In the Barents region, oral health care provision systems, mainly operating via the public sector, were in place in all countries. However, in most countries, oral health was poorer, access to care more difficult and use of services lower, mainly because of a lack of dental personnel and economic constraints. Overall, there was a huge difference in the inhabitants to dentist ratios between the Nordic countries and Russia.
Professional co-operation within dentistry should be integral to the Barents region in order to expand the number of dental personnel, improve oral health and increase access to dental care.