Oral health status of independent older adults in Texas: An observational study comparing urban and rural areas
Martin, Julie L.
Boyd, Linda D.
LaSpina, Lisa M.
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Martin, Julie L., Boyd, Linda D., Tapias-Perdigón, Helena and Lisa M. LaSpina. 2017. "Oral Health Status of Independent Older Adults in Texas: An observational study of the urban/rural areas." Journal of Dental Hygiene, v.91, no.5: 40-47
Purpose: The purpose of this study was to assess the oral health needs of community-dwelling older adults participating in congregate meal centers and to determine whether differences exist in the oral health needs of older adult populations residing in urban versus rural communities in the state of Texas. Methods: Study participants were recruited at 6 congregate meal centers located in identified rural and urban communities in the greater metropolitan area of Austin, Texas. (N=78) Participants completed a validated, modified questionnaire containing 20 items on the following topics: self-reported oral health, tooth loss, dental insurance, frequency of dental visits, time since last dental visit, access to dental care, dry mouth, and oral cancer screening. Each participant received an oral health screening based on the Association of State and Territorial Dental Directors Basic Screening Survey for Older Adults. The examiners received hands-on training prior to the study to ensure the validity of their findings and to test for inter-examiner reliability. The chi-square test of independence was performed to analyze the participants’ responses on the Basic Screening Survey to identify any relationships between the variables. Results: There were no significant differences in oral health conditions of older adults residing in urban versus rural communities. Over 50% of the participants (64.9% urban; 56.1% rural) reported incomes below $15,000 and lacked dental insurance to cover all or a portion of their oral health care needs. Eightyseven percent of the participants reported tooth loss due to dental caries, 35% required periodontal care, and 37% reported occasional and 43% reported frequent oral pain over the last 12 months. Conclusions: Oral health promotion and disease prevention is an emergent need for older adult populations residing in urban and rural communities of the state of Texas. Analysis revealed that the majority of the older adult populations in both settings to have financial and socioeconomic barriers to access preventative and restorative dental care services.