The aim of this study was to provide state-level surveillance data to assess the oral health of people with disabilities.
Data from the 2004 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS)—a state-based, random-digit-dialed telephone survey of the U.S. civilian noninstitutionalized population 18 years of age and older—were used to estimate disability prevalence and state-level differences in oral health among people with and those without disabilities.
Nationally, people with disabilities were less likely than people without disabilities to visit a dentist or dental clinic in the past year. The percentage of people with disabilities who reported they had visited a dentist in the past year was lowest in Mississippi (48.9%) and highest in Connecticut (74.5%). Among people without disabilities reporting they had visited a dentist or dental clinic in the past year, the percentage was lowest in Mississippi (60.7%) and highest in Minnesota (80.7%). Edentulism was higher among people with disabilities compared with those without disabilities. Among people with disabilities, edentulism was lowest in the District of Columbia (4.1%) and highest in Kentucky (18.7%). Among people without disabilities, edentulism was lowest in California (2.7%) and highest in Kentucky (11.3%).
Despite numerous studies and reports documenting the unmet oral health needs of people with disabilities, there has been no systematic national surveillance of oral health among people with disabilities in the United States. This article provides much-needed state-by-state and national epidemiologic data regarding the oral health of people with disabilities.