Oral health among white, black, and Mexican-American elders: an examination of edentulism and dental caries.
OBJECTIVES: To examine racial/ethnic disparities in oral health among older Americans. METHODS: Differences in frequency of edentulism and number of decayed, missing, and filled teeth were assessed in 2,679 non-Hispanic white, 742 non-Hispanic black, and 934 Mexican-American individuals aged 60 and older from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (1999-2004). RESULTS: Controlling for potential confounding variables, blacks and Mexican-Americans had significantly higher numbers of decayed teeth but fewer numbers of filled teeth than whites. Although blacks had a lower likelihood of being edentulous than whites, dentate blacks had a higher number of missing teeth. Compared with whites, Mexican-Americans were less likely to be edentulous, and dentate Mexican-Americans had fewer missing teeth. Our study also showed that blacks and Mexican-Americans had less frequent dental checkups than whites. CONCLUSIONS: Oral health disparities are persistent across racial/ethnic groups for older Americans despite the fact that the differences between groups typically diminish when socioeconomic, health-related, and behavioral factors are considered in the models. Our study suggests that reducing racial/ethnic oral health disparities requires multiple clinical approaches.
Wu, B; Liang, J; Plassman, BL; Remle, RC; Bai, L
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