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Oral health among white, black, and Mexican-American elders: an examination of edentulism and dental caries

Archived Abstract of Former PSC Researcher

Wu, B., Jersey Liang, B. Plassman, R. Remle, and L. Bai. 2011. "Oral health among white, black, and Mexican-American elders: an examination of edentulism and dental caries." Journal of Public Health Dentistry, 71(4): 308-317.

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.

DOI:10.1111/j.1752-7325.2011.00273.x (Full Text)

Country of focus: United States.

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