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15 March 2023

Prevalence over time and determinants of dental care visits among Tennessee seniors


Rates of dental visits of older adults in the U.S., particularly in Tennessee, are rapidly increasing, coupled with the growing complexity of older adults’ dental treatment. Notably, increased dental visits help detect and treat dental disease and offer opportunities for preventive care. This longitudinal study aimed to examine the prevalence and determinants of dental care visits amongst Tennessee seniors.


This observational study combined multiple cross-sectional studies. Researchers used five even years of Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System data, including 2010, 2012, 2014, 2016 and 2018. The BRFSS data are national population-based studies carried out by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, with more than 400,000 adults interviewed each year. 

Data were limited to Tennessee seniors 60 years or older. Weighting was conducted to account for the complex sampling design. Logistic regression analysis was performed to determine the factors associated with dental clinic visits. A P value < .05 was considered statistically significant.


The current study comprised 5,362 Tennessee seniors. Older individuals visiting dental clinics within one year gradually decreased from 76.5% in 2010 to 71.2% in 2018. The majority of participants were female (51.7%), White (81.3%) and located in Middle Tennessee (43.5%).

Logistic regression showed that those more likely to visit dentists or dental clinics included females, seniors who never smoked and former smokers, individuals with some college education, college graduates and those with high incomes (e.g., >$50,000).

Conversely, Black participants, participants with fair or poor health and those who have never married were less likely to report dental visits.


Rates of Tennessee seniors visiting dental clinics within one year have gradually decreased from 76.5% in 2010 to 71.2% in 2018. Several factors were associated with seniors seeking dental treatment. The determinants of dental care visits among older adults included sex, race, marital status, educational level, income level, smoking status, and health status.

These factors should be considered when developing policies, programs and interventions to improve dental care visit attendance and oral health outcomes among seniors. Future longitudinal studies targeting other states in the U.S. are needed to confirm the findings.

Ying Liu, Esther Adeniran and Kesheng Wang. "Changes in Prevalence Over Time and Determinants of Dental Care Visits Amongst Tennessee Seniors." International Dental Journal. 20 February 2023. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.identj.2023.01.004

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