Dental Care in Ethnic Populations Over 65 Essay

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Dental Care in Ethnic Populations Over 65

Borrell, L.N., Burt, B.A., and Neighbors, H.W. (2004, May). Social Factors and Periodontitis in an Older Population. American Journal Public Health. 94(5), 748 -- 754. PMCID: PMC1448332

This article discusses the relationship between age, ethnicity, socio-economic status, and educational level with respect to oral dental health and particularly focuses on periodontitis. Research and conventional wisdom have long pointed to poorer health outcomes for people with lower socioeconomic status than for people with higher socioeconomic status.

Studies on the differences in received dental care for older individuals -- particularly those aged 65 and older -- indicate that oral health is poorer and dental care less frequent for this population. In this article, the authors evaluate various characteristic for blacks, Hispanics (Mexican-Americans), and whites in these age groups: 50-59 years; 60-69 years, and >70 years.
The indicator "Time since last dental visit" is telling: 47.7% of the blacks over 70 years of age had gone over one year since their last dental visit; and 43.5% of the Hispanics (Mexican-Americans) had not seen a dentist in over a year. This compares to a figure of 18.2% for whites. Considering the same indicator, the figures for blacks, Hispanics (Mexican-Americans), and whites aged 60-69 years were 20.7%, 20.8%, and 16.9%, respectively.

An interesting point that emerged from the study is that, independent of high income or education, blacks exhibited the highest prevalence of periodontitis; the authors attributed this fact to the higher stress levels of blacks, which they surmised could be attributed to the social conditions resulting from racial inequality). Interestingly, regardless of education or income, Hispanics (Mexican-Americans) exhibited the lowest prevalence of periodontitis.

The topic was interesting.....

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