Although older adults are keeping their teeth longer, no national data are available on new caries in this age group. To characterize the extent of caries among older adults, we systematically reviewed studies on root caries incidence, increment, attack rate, and annual total (root + coronal) caries increment. We used a random-effects model to estimate annual summary measures and their 95% confidence intervals (CI) and tested for heterogeneity. For the 9 studies reporting root caries incidence, the summary measure equaled 23.7% (CI = 17.1-30.2%). For the 9 studies reporting root caries increment, the summary measure was 0.47 surfaces (CI = 0.34-0.61). For the 7 studies reporting total caries increment, the summary measure equaled 1.31 surfaces (95% CI = 1.01-1.61 surfaces). Because of heterogeneity, summary measures should be interpreted with caution. This research suggests, however, that older adults experience high rates of new caries and could benefit from caries-prevention programs.
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