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Am J Public Health. 2011 Oct;101(10):1892-9. doi: 10.2105/AJPH.2011.300215. Epub 2011 Aug 18.

Social gradients in oral health in older adults: findings from the English longitudinal survey of aging.

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  • 1Department of Epidemiology and Public Health, University College London, United Kingdom.



We examined prospective associations between socioeconomic position (SEP) markers and oral health outcomes in a national sample of older adults in England.


Data were from the English Longitudinal Survey of Aging, a national cohort study of community-dwelling people aged 50 years and older. SEP markers (education, occupation, household income, household wealth, subjective social status, and childhood SEP) and sociodemographic confounders (age, gender, and marital status) were from wave 1. We collected 3 self-reported oral health outcomes at wave 3: having natural teeth (dentate vs edentate), self-rated oral health, and oral impacts on daily life. Using multivariate logistic regression models, we estimated associations between each SEP indicator and each oral health outcome, adjusted for confounders.


Irrespective of SEP marker, there were inverse graded associations between SEP and edentulousness, with proportionately more edentate participants at each lower SEP level. Lower SEP was also associated with worse self-rated oral health and oral impacts among dentate, but not among edentate, participants.


There are consistent and clear social gradients in the oral health of older adults in England, with disparities evident throughout the SEP hierarchy.

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