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Keywords:

  • dental caries;
  • periodontal diseases;
  • access;
  • utilisation

doi:10.1111/j.1741-2358.2009.00311.x Oral disease experience of older adults seeking oral health services

Objective:  The objective of this investigation was to describe the dental disease (dental caries and alveolar bone loss) experience in a sample of community-dwelling older adults who regularly utilize dental services in New York City.

Background:  Public financing for dental care directed at older adults in the United States is minimal. Improved preventive methods, primarily the use of fluorides, have resulted in declines in tooth loss, and concomitant increase in risk for dental diseases among older adults. While the oral disease burden in institutionalized elderly and those unable to access services is well-documented, the dental care needs of older adults who access dental services are not well documented.

Materials and Methods:  Radiographic and record review were used to determine prevalence of dental caries, alveolar bone loss, frequency of service utilization, and medical status in this cross-sectional investigation of a sample of older adults (N = 200) using dental services at Columbia University College of Dental Medicine.

Results:  Only 9% of the sample was completely edentulous, the mean DMFT was 19.9 and mean alveolar bone loss was 3.6 mm. Missing and Decayed Teeth accounted for 57.8% and 6.5% of the total caries burden respectively. Missing Teeth and alveolar bone loss increased with increasing age, but there was no increase in Decayed Teeth.

Conclusions:  While access to and utilization of dental services may result in improved tooth retention, older adults who use dental services continue to have dental care needs, especially periodontal care needs.