Using the National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys (NHANES) 1999–2004, the authors examined age patterns in oral health indicators by race/ethnicity and socioeconomic status related to edentulism, presence of root caries, and periodontal disease. Our analysis included subjects who were non-Hispanic White, Mexican American, and African American over the age of 20, and who participated in the NHANES oral health examination. African Americans experienced more oral health problems at younger ages; as age increased, so did racial disparities in oral health problems. Lower educational attainment was strongly associated with more oral health problems at all ages.
These results may indicate a faster progression of oral health problems with age among African Americans, thus suggesting that the “earlier aging” of members of racial/ethnic minorities which has been reported in prior research may also be found in oral health.