Racial/ethnic variations in associations between socioeconomic factors and tooth loss

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Colleges, School and Institutes


To compare the associations between socioeconomic factors and tooth loss among White, Black, and Mexican-American people. 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. 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. 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.


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)267-275
Number of pages9
JournalCommunity Dentistry And Oral Epidemiology
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2009


  • oral health, tooth loss, race, ethnicity, disparities