Dissertations and Theses @ UNI


Open Access Thesis


Older people--Iowa--Polk County; Older people; Older people--Dental care; Iowa--Polk County;


The purpose of this study was to identify the following characteristics of well elderly attending Polk County, Iowa senior centers: (a) oral health status, (b) perceived and evaluated treatment needs, and (c) utilization of dental services. An oral health screening of 176 senior center participants age 60 and older was used to assess each of the variables. Data suggested there was an increased rate of oral mucosal lesions and edentulousness (without teeth) for this population when compared to Iowans of similar age and oral health status. There was a perceived dental need by 60% of the population, and an evaluated routine treatment need identified in 76% of the population. However, only 33% of the seniors screened had received dental care within the last year and 32% reported no source for dental care. The need to develop a comprehensive oral health program for well elderly attending Polk County senior centers was identified. The program foci would include (a) oral health education for participants and providers, (b) a vigorous outreach program to access dental services, (c) an alternative method of financing care, and (d) an ongoing screening program to assess change of oral health status within the population. The recommended program would also provide an opportunity to conduct research on the effect of community resources on utilization of dental services, which has not been adequately examined for the elderly.

Year of Submission


Degree Name

Master of Arts


School of Health, Physical Education, and Leisure Services

First Advisor

Dennis Cryer

Second Advisor

Thomas M. Davis

Third Advisor

Patrick B. Moffit


If you are the rightful copyright holder of this thesis and wish to have it removed from the Open Access Collection, please submit a request to scholarworks@uni.edu and include clear identification of the work, preferably with URL.

Date Original


Object Description

1 PDF file (124 leaves)



File Format