Oral Health Status: Tooth loss (older adults)

Tooth loss in older adults (ages 65 and older) by:


Having "functional dentition," defined by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) as having 21 out of 28 to 32 possible teeth is important for the ability to eat, speak, and socialize without discomfort and without the need for dentures.

Gum disease is the leading cause of the loss of permanent and natural teeth. Injuries and oral-dental trauma may also cause tooth loss. Risk factors for tooth loss include poor oral hygiene, dry mouth, hormonal changes, some prescription medications, and tobacco use.


Compared to the United States, Minnesota older adults had less tooth loss

Tooth loss in older adults (ages 65 and older) by year

Data source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS).  Note: Data based on survey respondent report of teeth lost due to tooth decay or gum disease.  Data from 2012 and later should not be compared to data from previous years due to a change in survey methods. Estimates for the United States are calculated as a median. Estimates for Minnesota are calculated as an average or absolute percent. See About the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System data for more information. 

In 2012, Minnesota older adults (36%, or roughly four out of every 10 older adults) experienced less natural tooth loss compared to older adults in the rest of the United States (45%, or roughly 5 out of every 10 older adults). Of older adults in Minnesota who experienced tooth loss, 12% have had all their natural teeth removed (compared to 16% in the United States).


Higher proportion of low income older adults had tooth loss

Tooth loss in older adults (ages 65 and older) by income, 2012

Data source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS). Note: Data based on survey respondent report of teeth lost due to tooth decay or gum disease.  Estimates for the United States are calculated as a median.  Estimates for Minnesota are calculated as an average or absolute percent.  Bars represent the percentage of older adults with tooth loss within income categories (row percent), therefore do not add to 100-percent. See About the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System data for more information.

Older adults with lower income levels experienced more tooth loss than older adults with higher income levels. Half of older adults in Minnesota with an annual income of less than $35,000 had at least one natural tooth removed due to tooth decay or gum disease. And nearly two out of every 10 older adults with an annual income of less than $35,000 have had all their natural teeth removed due to tooth decay or gum disease.


Older adults with less education had more tooth loss

Tooth loss in older adults (ages 65 and older) by education, 2012

Data source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS). Note: Data based on survey respondent report of teeth lost due to tooth decay or gum disease.  Estimates for the United States are calculated as a median.  Estimates for Minnesota are calculated as an average or absolute percent.  Bars represent the percentage of older adults with tooth loss within education categories (row percent), therefore do not add to 100-percent. See About the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System data for more information.

Older adults with less education experienced more tooth loss than older adults with more education. Nearly six out of every 10 older adults in Minnesota with less than a high school degree had at least one natural tooth removed compared to two out of every 10 older adults with a college degree. Older adults with less than a high school degree were three times more likely to have had all their natural teeth removed compared to older adults with a college degree.


Black and African American older adults had the most tooth loss

Tooth loss in older adults (ages 65 and older) by race/ethnicity, 2012

Data source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS).  Note: Data based on survey respondent report of teeth lost due to tooth decay or gum disease.  Estimates for the United States are calculated as a median.  Estimates for Minnesota are calculated as an average or absolute percent.  Bars represent the percentage of older adults with tooth loss within racial/ethnic categories (row percent), therefore do not add to 100-percent.  See About the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System data for more information. 

Black and African American older adults were more likely to have had one or more of their natural teeth removed compared to White older adults.

For more information: About the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System data