Socioeconomic and racial/ethnic oral health disparities among US older adults: oral health quality of life and dentition

J Public Health Dent. Spring 2015;75(2):85-92. doi: 10.1111/jphd.12072. Epub 2014 Sep 18.


Objective: This study aims to examine if older adults living in poverty and from minority racial/ethnic groups experienced disproportionately high rates of poor oral health outcomes measured by oral health quality of life (OHQOL) and number of permanent teeth.

Methods: Cross-sectional analysis of 2,745 community-dwelling adults aged ≥65 years from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) 2005-2008. Oral health outcomes were assessed by questionnaire using the NHANES-Oral Health Impact Profile for OHQOL and standardized examination for dentition. Logistic and linear regression analyses were used to determine the association between oral health outcomes and predictors of interest. All analyses were weighted to account for complex survey sampling methods.

Results: Both poverty and minority race/ethnicity were significantly associated with poor oral health outcomes in OHQOL and number of permanent teeth. Distribution of scores for each OHQOL domain varied by minority racial/ethnic group.

Conclusions: Oral health disparities persist in older adults living in poverty and among those from minority racial/ethnic groups. The racial/ethnic variation in OHQOL domains should be further examined to develop interventions to improve the oral health of these groups.

Keywords: NHANES; health status disparities; older adults; oral health; quality of life; tooth loss.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Continental Population Groups*
  • Dentition*
  • Ethnic Groups*
  • Female
  • Healthcare Disparities*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Oral Health*
  • Poverty
  • Quality of Life*
  • Social Class*
  • United States