This study of the Medicare Current Beneficiary Survey (MCBS) updates trends in utilization of dental services between 1998 and 2006 for community-dwelling U.S. adults of age 65 years and older. Bivariate comparisons were made between dependent variables (annual dental visits and types of dental procedures) and independent variables (age, gender, race, income, education, population density, marital status, U.S. Census Bureau regions, and self-reported health). The estimated percentage of community-dwelling Medicare beneficiaries with a dental visit for the years studied increased from 45.0% in 1998 to 46.3% in 2006. The age group of respondents who were 85 years and older had the greatest percentage increase in dental visits. Those reporting visits with preventive procedures increased from 87.8% to 91.2% whereas those reporting visits with nonpreventive procedures declined from 63.9% to 58.4%. The prevalence of dental visits continues to trend upward for this population of older adults.
Increasing delivery of preventive services will likely impact the future mix of dental services as U.S. adults live longer.