Abstract – Objectives: To compare the associations between socioeconomic factors and tooth loss among White, Black, and Mexican‐American people.
Methods: Analyses were conducted on 16 821 adults, using data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey‐III. Age‐ and multivariate‐adjusted negative binomial regressions were used to explore the relation of socioeconomic factors, region of residence, gender, and foreign birth with the number of missing teeth. Effect modification by race/ethnicity was assessed by the inclusion of interaction terms.
Results: In multivariate‐adjusted analyses, non‐Hispanic White people with 9–12 years of education exhibited 71% higher mean number of missing teeth than those with >12 years of education [incidence rate ratio (IRR) = 1.71, 95% confidence interval (CI): 1.52–1.92]. Education was unrelated to the number of teeth among non‐Hispanic Black people (IRR = 1.16; 95% CI: 1.00–1.35) or Mexican‐Americans (IRR = 1.10, 95% CI: 0.93–1.31). The poorest White people exhibited 39% more missing teeth, on average, than the most affluent White people, but no association between poverty and number of teeth was observed among Black or Mexican‐American people.
Conclusions: The associations between socioeconomic factors and tooth loss vary across race/ethnicity. This suggests that the health benefits associated with high socioeconomic status are not equally shared across racial/ethnic groups.