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Keywords:

  • aging;
  • oral health;
  • surveillance;
  • cohorts;
  • root caries

Objectives

To compare the oral health status of adults aged 45–64 (baby boomers) and those aged 65 and older.

Methods

An observational, cross-sectional survey of adults living independently in rural and urban settings in Nova Scotia, Canada was conducted. Using random digit dialing, calibrated interviewers completed a telephone survey, and clinicians calibrated to WHO standards conducted clinical examinations. Weighting was used to correct for sampling bias.

Results

747 community dwelling adults completed both the clinical exam and the questionnaire (n = 411, age 45–64; n = 336, age 65 or older). Rates of edentulism were low (2.6% aged 45–64; 15.7% aged 65+; p < 0.001). Untreated root caries was greater in the older dentate group (19.7 vs. 10.1%; p < 0.001). Being 65 years of age or older was identified as a predictor of increased decayed, missing, filled teeth, presence of decayed and/or filled roots and presence of attachment loss ≥4 mm, but was not a significant predictor of presence of untreated coronal caries.

Conclusions

A falling rate of edentulism and a higher risk for root caries with increasing age may predict the need for more complex dental care as our population ages.