Is Racial Discrimination Associated with Number of Missing Teeth Among American Adults?

Malini Muralikrishnan, Wael Sabbah

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Citations (Scopus)


Objective: The objectives of this study are to assess the association of racial discrimination with tooth loss among American adults and whether this relationship, if existed, explains ethnic differences in tooth loss. Methods: Data is from the Behavioural Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS) 2014, a cross-sectional survey of a nationally representative sample of American adults. The survey included data on sociodemographic characteristics, behaviour, health insurance and number of missing teeth. The survey also included questions on whether a person was treated differently because of his/her race. Logistic regression analysis was conducted to assess the relationship between tooth loss and indicators of discrimination. We also examined the relation between ethnicity and indicators of discrimination. Results: The analysis included 4858 participants aged 18 to 44 years. Tooth loss (> one tooth) was reported by 26% of participants. Among those reporting discrimination at healthcare facility, there was 141% increase in tooth loss compared to those not reporting discrimination. Discrimination at work and emotional impact of discrimination were both significantly associated with tooth loss in the partially adjusted models. Accounting for discrimination slightly attenuated ethnic differences in too loss. Black Americans had significantly higher odds for reporting all types of discrimination used here. Conclusion: This study demonstrated a potential role for discrimination in tooth loss among American adults. Discrimination could also explain part of ethnic inequalities in oral health.

Original languageEnglish
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Racial and Ethnic Health Disparities
Issue number5
Early online date13 Oct 2020
Publication statusPublished - 13 Oct 2020


  • Ethnicity
  • Oral health
  • Racial discrimination
  • Socioeconomic factors
  • Tooth loss


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