Oral disease burden and dental services utilization by Latino and African-American seniors in Northern Manhattan

J Community Health. 2003 Aug;28(4):267-80. doi: 10.1023/a:1023938108988.


Although oral diseases are among the most common chronic conditions affecting older adults, utilization of dental services by the elderly, especially minority elderly is low. This pilot study determined whether there are racial/ethnic differences in oral disease burden, perceived oral health-related quality of life, perceived need for dental services and dental services utilization between African-American and Latino seniors in Northern Manhattan. Subjects received an oral examination and a face-to-face survey to assess oral health status, perceived need, perceived oral health-related quality of life, and utilization of dental services. The data suggest that in both populations, oral disease burden is high and utilization of dental services is problematic--34.0% of the subjects were edentulous and average time since last dental visit was 40.1 months. The average DMFT was 23.8; 81.6% of the dental caries experience was accounted for by Missing Teeth, and there were significant differences in total caries experience, and Missing and Filled Teeth between African-American and Latino seniors. Although there were no racial/ethnic differences in the utilization of dental services, dentate individuals were more likely to have had a more recent dental visit (31.0 months) than edentulous individuals (57.7 months). The high proportion of Missing Teeth suggests that interventions aimed at improving the oral health of this population must target individuals at a younger age.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • African Americans / statistics & numerical data*
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Cost of Illness*
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Dental Care for Aged / statistics & numerical data*
  • Female
  • Health Services Research
  • Hispanic or Latino / statistics & numerical data*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mouth Diseases / epidemiology
  • Mouth Diseases / ethnology*
  • New York City / epidemiology
  • Oral Health*
  • Quality of Life
  • Tooth Diseases / epidemiology
  • Tooth Diseases / ethnology*