Racial differences in periodontal disease and 10-year self-reported tooth loss among late middle-aged and older adults: the dental ARIC study

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To investigate racial differences in the associations between periodontitis and 10-year self-reported incident tooth loss in a biracial, community-based cohort of US late middle-aged and older adults.


Subjects were 3,466 dentate men and women aged 53–74 who underwent dental examinations from 1996 to1998. In 2012–2013, telephone interviewers asked participants about tooth loss in the preceding 10 years. Separate multivariable ordinal logistic regression models were used to calculate proportional odds ratios (OR) and 95% confidence intervals (CI) as estimates of association between periodontitis and tooth loss for Whites and African-Americans (AAs).


The majority of participants were White (85 percent) and female (57 percent) with 23 teeth on average at enrollment. Approximately half the Whites (56 percent) and AAs (49 percent) had periodontitis. At follow-up, approximately 44 percent of AAs and 38 percent of Whites reported having lost ≥1 tooth. In multivariable models, severe periodontitis (OR = 3.03; 95% CI = 2.42–3.80) and moderate periodontitis (OR = 1.64; 95% CI= 1.39–1.94) were significant risk factors of incident tooth loss among Whites. For AAs, severe but not moderate periodontitis increased the odds of incident tooth loss (OR = 2.22; 95% CI = 1.37–3.59). In the final model, education was inversely associated with incident tooth loss among AAs, while lower income was associated with greater odds of tooth loss among Whites.


In this population-based cohort, there is racial heterogeneity in the association between periodontitis and tooth loss. Interventions to reduce the impact of periodontitis on tooth loss need to consider these differences.

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