The prevalence of caries and tooth loss among participants in the Hispanic Community Health Study/Study of Latinos

J Am Dent Assoc. 2014 Jun;145(6):531-40. doi: 10.14219/jada.2014.25.


Background: The Hispanic and Latino population is projected to increase from 16.7 percent to 30.0 percent by 2050. Previous U.S. national surveys had minimal representation of Hispanic and Latino participants other than Mexicans, despite evidence suggesting that Hispanic or Latino country of origin and degree of acculturation influence health outcomes in this population. In this article, the authors describe the prevalence and mean number of cavitated, decayed and filled surfaces, missing teeth and edentulism among Hispanics and Latinos of different national origins.

Methods: Investigators in the Hispanic Community Health Study/Study of Latinos (HCHS/SOL)-a multicenter epidemiologic study funded by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute with funds transferred from six other institutes, including the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research-conducted in-person examinations and interviews with more than 16,000 participants aged 18 to 74 years in four U.S. cities between March 2008 and June 2011. The investigators identified missing, filled and decayed teeth according to a modified version of methods used in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. The authors computed prevalence estimates (weighted percentages), weighted means and standard errors for measures.

Results: The prevalence of decayed surfaces ranged from 20.2 percent to 35.5 percent, depending on Hispanic or Latino background, whereas the prevalence of decayed and filled surfaces ranged from 82.7 percent to 87.0 percent, indicating substantial amounts of dental treatment. The prevalence of missing teeth ranged from 49.8 percent to 63.8 percent and differed according to Hispanic or Latino background. Significant differences in the mean number of decayed surfaces, decayed or filled surfaces and missing teeth according to Hispanic and Latino background existed within each of the age groups and between women and men.

Conclusions: Oral health status differs according to Hispanic or Latino background, even with adjustment for age, sex and other characteristics.

Practical implications: These data indicate that Hispanics and Latinos in the United States receive restorative dental treatment and that practitioners should consider the association between Hispanic or Latino origin and oral health status. This could mean that dental practices in areas dominated by patients from a single Hispanic or Latino background can anticipate a practice based on a specific pattern of treatment needs.

Keywords: Hispanic; Latino; caries; tooth loss.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Dental Caries / epidemiology*
  • Female
  • Hispanic or Latino*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Prevalence
  • Tooth Loss / epidemiology*
  • United States / epidemiology
  • Young Adult