Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Public Affairs and Administration


The purpose of this study was to describe the prevalence of decayed, missing and filled teeth and periodontal disease among male, non-camp, nonpsychiatric inmates in the Michigan Department of Corrections (MDOC) and to assess the impact of age, race, security level, and years of incarceration on these parameters of oral health. Additionally, this study was designed to determine the emergent, urgent or routine dental treatment needs of this same population and to compare the ability of the existing Michigan Department of Corrections dental program to meet these needs. A representative sample of 251 inmates was randomly selected from thirteen geographically diverse MDOC institutions, using a three-stage area probability sampling design. The data collected in the study were the by-product of an examination procedure which utilized radiographs, mirrors, explorers, reflected light and periodontal explorers.

Results showed a mean Decayed, Missing, Filled Teeth Index (DMFT) of 11.52 for inmates ages 18 - 24, 19.25 for inmates aged 35 - 44, and 24.70 for inmates ages 45 and older. The number of missing teeth increased significantly with age (p<.0005) and there were fewer filled teeth in the 45 year and older age group than in the other age categories of 18 - 34 or 35 -44 years (p<.05). Periodontal disease increased with age (p<.0005). Whites had a higher DMFT score than blacks in the 18 - 34 age group (p<.05). No differences were found between security levels with respect to the number o f decayed, missing or filled teeth. Inmates incarcerated 0-2 years had a higher number of decayed teeth than those incarcerated 10.5 - 30 years. Comparison of these findings to NHANESI showed inmates had more decayed teeth than this general population, however, less missing and filled teeth.

The largest treatment need in the inmate population was for routine dental care needs. No differences were found between the inmate’s need for emergent, urgent or routine dental services and their level of security. Inmates incarcerated 0 - 2 years had a higher need for routine dental services than those incarcerated 2.1 - 3.8 years (p=.02). The current MDOC dental delivery system could easily satisfy all of the inmates’ routine dental care needs. Recommendations for alterations in the current dental delivery system were made which might accommodate this disparity.

Access Setting

Dissertation-Open Access