Difference in Prevalence of Edentulism Between Foreign-Born and US-born Older Americans

Document Type

Conference Abstract

Publication Date


Publication Title

APHA Annual Meeting and Expo 2020 Abstracts


Studies in immigrant health have documented an health paradox that foreign-born older Americans have health advantages in certain health outcomes over their native-born counterparts, despite their lower socioeconomic status. However, relatively few studies have explored whether there is immigrant advantage specific to oral health. In this study we compare the association between edentulism (as a proxy for oral health) and nativity among the participants of the Health and Retirement Study (HRS).

Data were from the HRS participants of aged 50 or older in 2012 (N=19,765). Edentulism was measured by the question, “have you lost all of your upper and lower permanent teeth?” Nativity, along with respondents’ chronological age, gender, years of schooling, dental insurance coverage, and diabetes status were entered into logistic regression models to explore the association.

A total of 3,233 (16.4%) respondents were edentulous and the foreign-born HRS respondents were significantly less likely to be edentulous (Odds Ratio= 2.33, p

Oral health has been linked to nutritional status and quality of life among older populations. Using edentulism as an indicator for oral health, our preliminary cross-sectional findings showed that foreign-born older Americans seemed to have another advantage in oral health (less likely to be edentulous), when compared to their native-born counterparts. Longitudinal analyses are needed to further clarify the relationship.


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