Defense Date


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Health Related Sciences

First Advisor

J. James Cotter


This cross-sectional, non-experimental study evaluates associations between cohort membership, type of dental coverage, and utilization of dental services in all patients age 47 and over who received dental care at Virginia Commonwealth University’s (VCU) School of Dentistry in 2011. Structural Lag Theory poses that society’s institutions lag behind the actuality of a healthy and capable older adult population. The two dynamisms of the Structural Lag Theory were used for this study. The Dynamism of Changing Lives is represented by Cohort differences. Cohort differences include cohort size, people living longer and retaining more of their natural teeth along with different attitudes toward dental care. This dynamism impacts the Dynamism of Structural Change, represented by the institutions of dental coverage and utilization of dental services. Cohort membership is an independent variable. The dependent variable, utilization, is defined as Financial-Total amount spent and Procedural-Routine adult dental prophylaxis. Dental coverage, a dichotomous variable, is used as an independent and dependent variable. Descriptive statistics revealed employer provided dental coverage is the most prevalent type of dental coverage. However, when considered a payment source, out of pocket funding is the primary source of payment for dental services. Using Chi-square and logistic regression, examination of Cohorts (1-Greatest Generation, 2-Silent Generation, 3-Baby Boomer Generation) revealed that Cohort 2 had more dental coverage than Cohort 1, and Cohort 3 had more dental coverage than Cohort 2. Using logistic regression, Cohort 2 showed the highest level of Procedural utilization. Evaluating Financial utilization, multiple regression models showed Cohort 1 utilized more than Cohort 2 and Cohort 2 utilized more than Cohort 3. Those with dental coverage spend more on dental services, fees for routine adult dental prophylaxis make up the majority of the total amount spent, and those with dental coverage utilize more dental services when defined as total amount spent. Because they have experienced different social, political, economic, and technological changes at different times in their life course, the receipt of dental services by new cohorts of older people differs from previous ones. Findings from this study confirm that there is a structural lag in Medicare policy and its coverage of dental services.


© The Author

Is Part Of

VCU University Archives

Is Part Of

VCU Theses and Dissertations

Date of Submission

June 2012