Oral health status of people with intellectual disabilities in the southeastern United States

Academic Article


  • Background. The U.S. surgeon general's report, Oral Health in America, stated that people living below the poverty level and those with mental retardation and/or physical disabilities have poorer oral health than the general population. Methods. The calibrated examiners (volunteer dentists and dental students) assessed the oral health status of intellectually disabled people with or without a physical disability via screening examinations provided to 12,099 Special Olympics athletes at 53 sites, including 1,891 people from seven states in the southeastern United States. Measurements of gingivitis, untreated decay, missing molars, sealants, restorations and treatment urgency were recorded. Results. The authors found that athletes from the very poor southeastern states were 1.6 times (odds ratio [OR] = 1.64; 95 percent confidence interval [CI]: 1.10 to 2.46) more likely to have restorations and almost one-third as likely (OR = 0.35; 95 percent CI: 0.21 to 0.60) to have sealants than were athletes from the poor states, after restricting the analysis by age. Conclusions. Among intellectually disabled people in this study, oral health disparities were associated with poverty. Special Olympics athletes from the poorest states were significantly more likely to have restorations and less likely to have received preventive treatment.
  • Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Author List

  • Pezzementi ML; Fisher MA
  • Start Page

  • 903
  • End Page

  • 912
  • Volume

  • 136
  • Issue

  • 7