OBJECTIVES: This paper estimates the incidence of oral disadvantage based on the subject's approach to dental care, sex, race, and financial status; identifies demographic and socioeconomic characteristics that were associated with oral disadvantage; and determines if these characteristics were differentially associated with the three domains of oral disadvantage. METHODS: The Florida Dental Care Study was a longitudinal study of oral health in diverse groups of persons who at baseline had at least one tooth, were 45 years or older, and were either African American or non-Hispanic white. Incidence rates, odds ratios, and 95 percent confidence intervals were used to describe oral disadvantage and its relation to race, income, and other key sociodemographic characteristics. RESULTS: The strongest independent predictors of oral disadvantage were approach to dental care (problem-oriented attenders or regular), and situation if faced with an unexpected $500 dental bill. Demographic and socioeconomic characteristics were differentially associated with each disadvantage domain. CONCLUSIONS: African Americans, females, rural residents, individuals who did not graduate from high school, individuals with limited financial resources, and problem-oriented dental attenders had significantly higher occurrences of oral disadvantage. Racial and sex disparities in oral disadvantage were largely explained by differences in approach to dental care and financial resources between these groups.