Inequalities in untreated root caries and affordability of dental services among older american adults

Fatma Badr, Wael Sabbah*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

The growing geriatric population is facing numerous economic challenges and oral health changes. This study explores the relationship between affordability of dental care and untreated root caries among older American adults, and whether that relationship is independent of ethnicity and socioeconomic factors. Data from 1776 adults (65 years or older) who participated in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) were analyzed. The association between affordability of dental care and untreated root caries was assessed using logistic regression models. Findings indicated that untreated root caries occurred in 42.5% of those who could not afford dental care, and 14% of those who could afford dental care. Inability to afford dental care remained a statistically significant predictor of untreated root caries in the fully adjusted regression model (odds ratio 2.79, 95% confidence interval: 1.78, 4.39). Other statistically significant predictors were gender (male), infrequent dental visits, and current smoking. The study concludes that the inability to afford dental care was the strongest predictor of untreated root caries among older Americans. The findings highlight the problems with access to and use of much needed dental services by older adults. Policy reform should facilitate access to oral healthcare by providing an alternative coverage for dental care, or by alleviating the financial barrier imposed on older adults.

Original languageEnglish
Article number8523
Pages (from-to)1-8
Number of pages8
JournalInternational Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health
Volume17
Issue number22
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2 Nov 2020

Keywords

  • Aged
  • Dental care
  • Risk factors
  • Root caries
  • Socioeconomic factors

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