Significant unmet oral health needs of homebound elderly adults

Katherine A. Ornstein, Linda DeCherrie, Rima Gluzman, Elizabeth S. Scott, Jyoti Kansal, Tushin Shah, Ralph Katz, Theresa A. Soriano

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


OBJECTIVES: To assess the oral health status, use of dental care, and dental needs of homebound elderly adults and to determine whether medical diagnoses or demographic factors influenced perceived oral health. DESIGN: Cross-sectional analysis. SETTING: Participants' homes in New York City. PARTICIPANTS: Homebound elderly adults (N = 125). MEASUREMENTS: A trained dental research team conducted a comprehensive clinical examination in participants' homes and completed a dental use and needs survey and the Geriatric Oral Health Assessment Index. RESULTS: Participants who reported a high level of unmet oral health needs were more likely to be nonwhite, although this effect was not significant in multivariate analysis. Individual medical diagnoses and the presence of multiple comorbidities were not associated with unmet oral health needs. CONCLUSION: The oral health status of homebound elderly adults was poor regardless of their medical diagnoses. High unmet oral health needs combined with strong desire to receive dental care suggests there is a need to improve access to dental care for this growing population. In addition to improving awareness of geriatricians and primary care providers who care for homebound individuals, the medical community must partner with the dental community to develop home-based programs for older adults.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)151-157
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of the American Geriatrics Society
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2015


  • Dental
  • Home-based primary care
  • Homebound
  • Oral health

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geriatrics and Gerontology


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