November 1, 2017

Preventable Tooth Loss in Hawai‘i: The Role of Socioeconomic Status, Diabetes, and Dental Visits

Mikako Deguchi, DDS, MBA; Marjorie K. Leimomi Mala Mau, MD, MS; James Davis, PhD; Richard Niederman, DMD, MS

Preventing Chronic Disease

Introduction:  Tooth preservation in adults and children is one of the Healthy People 2020 goals for oral health. Although the overall prevalence of tooth loss has been declining in the United States, substantial racial/ethnic differences in preventable tooth loss persist as a public health problem. We examined the strength of the association of health risk factors and tooth loss in Hawai‘i.

Methods:  We used data from the Hawai‘i Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System survey collected from 2011 through 2014. Participant responses were included if they self-identified as Native Hawaiian, white, Japanese, or Filipino. Differences in excess tooth loss (6 or more teeth) and known risk factors (demographics, diabetes, and dental visits) were analyzed by using univariate analyses and adjusted stepwise, logistic regression models.

Results:  We identified oral health inequity among the 4 ethnic groups studied; among the groups, Native Hawaiians had the largest proportion of excess tooth loss. The univariate analyses found differences in the strength of these associations among the 4 racial/ethnic groups. The stepwise analyses found that the associations of excess tooth loss and race/ethnicity were not significant after adjusting for demographics, diabetes status, and dental visits.

Conclusion:  Findings suggest a need for programs and policies that improve access to oral health care in Hawai‘i for those with low levels of income and education and those with diabetes.

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