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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

Dental caries prevalence and dental care utilization among the very old.

BACKGROUND: This article reports on coronal and root caries prevalence and dental care utilization patterns of elderly Iowans aged 79 years or older. METHODS: The sample for this study was 449 people who were surviving members of the Iowa 65+ Rural Health Study cohort originally recruited in 1981. The authors focused their analyses on the 342 of these who were dentate. Examinations were conducted in subjects' homes by trained and calibrated examiners, using a halogen headlight, a mouth mirror, a color-coded periodontal probe and a no. 23 explorer. RESULTS: The mean age of subjects was 85.1 years (range 79-101 years), and they had a mean of 19.4 remaining teeth. Nearly all subjects (96 percent) had coronal decay experience, while 23 percent of the subjects had untreated coronal decay, about one-fourth of which was recurrent. Nearly two-thirds (64 percent) of the sample had root caries experience, with 23 percent having untreated root caries. Utilization of dental services was high among the dentate elderly, with nearly three-quarters reporting having visited a dentist within the past year. Nearly all reported that they paid for dental care themselves with no third-party coverage. CONCLUSIONS: The findings from this study of the very old suggest that coronal and root caries remain prevalent, with high levels of dental care utilization among those who have retained natural teeth. CLINICAL IMPLICATIONS: As the U.S. population ages, and more teeth are retained, demand for dental services in the population of the oldest elderly people is likely to increase.[1]


  1. Dental caries prevalence and dental care utilization among the very old. Warren, J.J., Cowen, H.J., Watkins, C.M., Hand, J.S. Journal of the American Dental Association (1939) (2000) [Pubmed]
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