Treatment Needs in Seniors (Age 65 and Over)

Oral health in general has improved significantly over the past several decades in all population subgroups. In spite of this improvement, significant disparities are still found in some population groups.

Time Since Last Dental Visit (Table 1)

  • 23% of Seniors 65 and older have not been to the dentist in the last 5 years.
  • About half of all Seniors 65 and older have been to the dentist within the past year.
  • More Black and Hispanic Seniors and those with lower incomes and less education have not been to the dentist in the past 5 years.
  • Seniors with higher incomes and more education are much more likely to have seen a dentist within the past year.

Perceived Condition of Teeth and Mouth (Table 2)

  • 24% of Seniors 65 and older report that the condition of their teeth and mouth is excellent or very good.
  • 16% all Seniors 65 and older report that the condition of their teeth and mouth is poor.
  • More Black and Hispanic Seniors and those with lower incomes and less education report that the condition of their teeth and mouth is poor.
  • Seniors with higher incomes and more education are much more likely to report that the condition of their teeth and mouth is very good or excellent.

Table 1 presents the amount of time since the last dental visit among Seniors Age 65 and older and for selected subgroups. Each number represents the percentage of subjects who visited their dentist within that time frame.

Table 2 presents the perceived (self-reported) condition of teeth and mouth among Seniors Age 65 and older and for selected subgroups. Each number represents the percentage subjects who perceived their own mouth in that condition.

Table 1: Seniors, Time Since Last Dental Visit

Time since last dental visit among Seniors 65 and older years of age, by selected characteristics:
United States, National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, 1999–2004

Characteristic Never 1 Year or Less 1 to 2 Years 2 to 3 Years 3 to 5 Years More than 5 Years
Age
65 to 74 years * 56.90 8.78 6.04 6.67 21.23
75 or more years * 51.64 9.28 6.01 7.37 25.52
Sex
Male * 56.15 8.40 5.71 6.37 23.04
Female * 53.56 9.33 6.21 7.41 23.24
Race and Ethnicity
White, non-Hispanic * 57.96 8.35 5.63 6.10 21.85
Black, non-Hispanic * 37.99 13.45 5.59 11.28 30.59
Mexican American 4.12 38.31 9.92 9.25 9.32 29.08
Poverty Status (Income compared to Federal Poverty Level)
Less than 100% FPL* * 30.23 9.39 7.48 13.14 38.82
100% to 199% FPL * 42.19 9.56 6.88 7.59 33.51
More than 100% FPL * 67.08 8.86 4.49 4.85 14.22
Education
Less than High School * 35.28 10.61 6.90 9.99 36.43
High School * 53.63 7.79 6.44 7.25 24.82
More than High School * 71.47 8.68 4.96 4.07 10.77
Smoking Status
Current Smoker * 33.91 8.86 4.17 13.15 39.00
Former Smoker * 54.91 8.46 6.81 6.20 23.42
Never Smoked * 57.75 9.70 5.72 6.56 19.97
Overall * 54.52 9.01 6.03 6.99 23.18

 

*FPL = Federal Poverty Level

Data Source: The National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) has been an important source of information on oral health and dental care in the United States since the early 1970s.
Table 1 presents the latest NHANES (collected between 1999 and 2004) data regarding dental visits in Seniors.

Table 2: Seniors, Perceived Condition of Teeth and Mouth

Perceived (self-reported) condition of teeth and mouth among Seniors 65 and older years of age, by selected characteristics:
United States, National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, 1999–2004

Characteristic Excellent or Very Good Good Fair Poor
Age
65 to 74 years 23.26 38.31 24.31 14.12
75 or more years 24.99 36.71 20.78 17.52
Sex
Male 22.58 37.35 23.79 16.28
Female 25.35 37.75 21.70 15.21
Race and Ethnicity
White, non-Hispanic 25.66 39.65 21.48 13.21
Black, non-Hispanic 13.40 25.36 28.29 32.95
Mexican American 9.20 23.85 34.45 32.50
Poverty Status (Income compared to Federal Poverty Level)
Less than 100% FPL* 8.18 23.97 29.43 38.42
100% to 199% FPL 20.92 30.07 28.63 20.39
More than 100% FPL 26.91 42.73 19.25 11.11
Education
Less than High School 15.62 28.84 29.37 26.17
High School 22.51 41.14 22.68 13.67
More than High School 29.67 39.95 19.15 11.23
Smoking Status
Current Smoker 21.69 24.96 23.65 29.70
Former Smoker 22.23 35.73 24.83 17.21
Never Smoked 26.00 40.35 20.90 12.75
Overall 24.05 37.58 22.71 15.66

 

*FPL = Federal Poverty Level

Data Source: The National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) has been an important source of information on oral health and dental care in the United States since the early 1970s.
Table 1 presents the latest NHANES (collected between 1999 and 2004) data regarding dental visits in Seniors.

Last Reviewed
February 2018