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.