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Tooth loss in the US declines

By Dental Tribune International
August 26, 2014

CHAPEL HILL, N.C., USA: The number of edentulous people will decline significantly, a study has found. Researchers at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill followed edentulism over the last hundred years and predict that the number of people with tooth loss will be 30 percent lower in 2050 than it was in 2010."

The researchers investigated population trends in edentulism among U.S. adults at least 15 years of age by creating time-series data from five national cross-sectional health surveys: 1957–1958 (100,000 adults), 1971–1975 (14,655 adults), 1988–1998 (18,011 adults), 1999–2002 (12,336 adults) and 2009–2012 (10,522 adults). Birth cohort analysis was used to isolate age and cohort effects. Geographic and socio-demographic variation in prevalence were investigated using a sixth U.S. survey of 432,519 adults conducted in 2010. Prevalence through 2050 was projected using age cohort regression models with simulation of prediction intervals.

Across the five-decade observation period, edentulism prevalence declined from 18.9 percent in 1957–1958 to 4.9 percent in 2009–2012. The single most influential determinant of the decline was the passing of generations born before the 1940s, whose rate of edentulism incidence (5–6 percent per decade of age) far exceeded that of later cohorts (1–3 percent per decade of age). High-income households experienced a greater relative decline, but a smaller absolute decline, than did low-income households.

By 2010, edentulism was a rare condition in high-income households and had contracted geographically to states with disproportionately high poverty. With the passing of generations born in the mid-20th century, the rate of decline in edentulism is projected to slow, reaching 2.6 percent (95 percent prediction limits: 2.1 percent, 3.1 percent) by 2050. The continuing decline will be offset only partially by population growth and population aging, such that the predicted number of edentulous people in 2050 (8.6 million; 95 percent prediction limits: 6.8 million, 10.3 million) will be 30 percent lower than the 12.2 million edentulous people in 2010.

"While it's encouraging to know that this study by Dr. Gary Slade illustrates a steep decline in U.S. edentulism over the past five decades, these health gains in absolute terms have not been distributed equally," said American Association for Dental Research President Dr. Timothy DeRouen. "Additional public health measures must be taken to reduce tooth loss in low-income populations."

The paper, titled "Projections of U.S. Edentulism Prevalence Following Five Decades of Decline," was published online on Aug. 21 in the Journal of Dental Research ahead of print. The journal is a publication of the International Association for Dental Research (IADR) and the American Association for Dental Research, a division of the IADR. The IADR is a nonprofit organization dedicated to advancing research and increasing knowledge for the improvement of oral health, among other objectives.

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