Objectives: The purpose of this study was to characterize dental service utilization in 1997 by community dwelling Medicare beneficiaries.
Methods: The Medicare Current Beneficiary Survey, or MCBS, is a continuous annual series of nationally representative surveys of Medicare beneficiaries. Univariate comparisons were made between dependent variables (dental utilization and types of dental services) by each of the independent variables (age group, gender, race, income, education, population density, marital status and U.S. Census Bureau regions using weighted proportions to test for independence between dependent and independent variables.
Results: Overall, an estimated 41% of the population had a dental visit. Although utilization declined with aging, 24% of those 85 and older visited a dentist.
Conclusions: This descriptive study provides important information about dental utilization and services in the American elderly population. Younger, high income, white or educated elderly Americans had higher dental utilization.