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01.12.2015 | Research article | Ausgabe 1/2015 Open Access

BMC Oral Health 1/2015

Oral health among the elderly in 7 Latin American and Caribbean cities, 1999-2000: a cross-sectional study

BMC Oral Health > Ausgabe 1/2015
Hema Singh, Rohan G Maharaj, Rahul Naidu
Wichtige Hinweise

Competing interests

The authors declare that they have no competing interests.

Authors’ contributions

All authors contributed to the paper. This paper was created from the MPH research report of the first author. Both RGM and RN supervised the student and contributed to the final report. All authors have read and approved the final manuscript.



To describe the prevalence of missing teeth, use of bridges and dentures and unmet dental needs among those aged 60 years and above. The associations of these conditions with socio-demographics, type 2 diabetes mellitus and depression were also studied. The work was carried out in 7 Latin American and Caribbean (LAC) cities in 1999-2000.


A secondary analysis was conducted on the Survey of Health and Well-Being of Elders (SABE) dataset. The 7 cities were Buenos Aires, Bridgetown, São Paulo, Santiago, Havana, Mexico City and Montevideo. This survey did not employ any oral examinations. Descriptive statistics, chi-square and regression analysis were used to test for associations.


Data for 10 902 persons were analyzed. Females made up 62% of the population. Across the SABE population, between 93.7% (Mexico City) to 99.9% (Santiago) reported missing teeth, with an average of 97.5%. Of those with missing teeth, between 55.1% (Mexico City) and 82.4% (São Paulo) reported having bridges or dentures, with an average of 70.1% across all SABE cities. The proportion of the SABE population with ‘unmet dental needs’ ranged from 85.8% (Santiago) to 98.4% (Havana), with an average of 94.5%. Bridgetown, São Paulo and Mexico City demonstrated a statistically significant association between aging and tooth loss. Generally a greater proportion of females (97.6%) reported tooth loss compared with males (96.8%), but in only São Paulo and Montevideo was there a statistically significant association between sex and tooth loss. Generally those with higher education reported less tooth loss, primary education (97.6% had tooth loss), secondary (96.8%) and tertiary (94.7%). All the SABE cities except Buenos Aires demonstrated a statistically significant association between tooth loss and education.


The prevalence of missing teeth, use of bridges and dentures and unmet dental needs were high in the SABE cities in 1999-2000. In general across the SABE cities, the elderly with the most missing teeth were less educated or less likely to be a professional. They tended to be not working and were receiving a pension. Additionally they were less likely to report their health as ‘excellent’, were diabetic and were more likely to give responses suggestive of depression.
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