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Oral Health Prev Dent. 2016;14(3):249-57. doi: 10.3290/j.ohpd.a35614.

Racial and Ethnic Differences in Self-Reported Periodontal Disease in the Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis (MESA).



Racial and ethnic disparities in periodontal disease exist in the United States. This study examined the prevalence of self-reported periodontal disease, and the extent to which racial/ethnic disparities in the reported disease were reduced or eliminated after controlling for various risk factors in a multi-ethnic study population of older adults.


Information from the baseline examination (July 2000-August 2002) of the Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis (MESA) was used. Study participants (N = 6256) were age 45-84 years and identified themselves as either: white, black, Hispanic or Chinese. Periodontal disease was assessed by self-report; demographic and socioeconomic status (SES) indicators, biomedical risk factors and psychosocial stress factors were used as predictors of self-reported periodontal disease.


Chinese displayed the highest prevalence of self-reported periodontal disease (39.8%), followed by blacks (32.0%) and whites (26.0%), with Hispanics displaying the lowest prevalence (17.4%). Chinese and black participants had a significantly higher prevalence of disease compared to whites that persisted after adjusting for demographic and SES indicators, biomedical risk factors and psychosocial stress factors. After such adjustment, Hispanics did not differ significantly from whites in their reporting of disease.


Racial/ethnic disparities in self-reported periodontal disease persisted after adjusting for all study covariates. This study highlights the need for continued research into the determinants of racial/ethnic disparities in periodontal disease in order to better target interventions aimed at reducing the burden of disease in all segments of the U.S. population.

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