OBJECTIVE: To examine tooth loss and dental caries by sociodemographic characteristics from community-based oral health examinations conducted by dentists in northern Manhattan.
BACKGROUND: The ElderSmile programme of the Columbia University College of Dental Medicine serves older adults with varying functional capacities across settings. This report is focused on relatively mobile, socially engaged participants who live in the impoverished communities of Harlem and Washington Heights/Inwood in northern Manhattan, New York City.
MATERIALS AND METHODS: Self-reported sociodemographic characteristics and health and health care information were provided by community-dwelling ElderSmile participants aged 65 years and older who took part in community-based oral health education and completed a screening questionnaire. Oral health examinations were conducted by trained dentists in partnering prevention centres among ElderSmile participants who agreed to be clinically screened (90.8%).
RESULTS: The dental caries experience of ElderSmile participants varied significantly by sociodemographic predictors and smoking history. After adjustment in a multivariable logistic regression model, older age, non-Hispanic Black and Hispanic race/ethnicity, and a history of current or former smoking were important predictors of edentulism.
CONCLUSION: Provision of oral health screenings in community-based settings may result in opportunities to intervene before oral disease is severe, leading to improved oral health for older adults.