Social stratification, oral hygiene, and trajectories of dental caries among old Americans.
OBJECTIVE: This study analyzed how oral hygiene (i.e., brushing, rinsing, and flossing) influences the trajectories of dental caries (i.e., numbers of decayed, missing, and filled teeth) among older Americans within the context of social stratification. METHOD: Data came from Piedmont Dental Study that involved a sample of 810 older Americans who were dentate in 1988 with up to four repeated observations through 1994. Hierarchical linear models were used for data analysis. RESULTS: Brushing, flossing, and rinsing were associated with the trajectories of dental caries in distinct ways. In addition, oral hygiene was correlated with race, education, household income, and use of dental care. The effects of brushing and flossing on decayed and missing teeth remained robust, even when socio-demographic and health attributes were controlled. Conversely, socioeconomic disparities in dental caries persisted, when oral hygiene was adjusted. DISCUSSION: Both social stratification and oral hygiene need to be considered in promoting oral health.
Liang, J; Wu, B; Plassman, B; Bennett, JM; Beck, J
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