The aim of this study was to assess the oral health status of aged 65 years and over, and evaluate the level of edentulousness and study the factors that could have an influence on edentulism. The participants of this study were 215 patients; 94 males (47.3%) and 121 females (56.3%), aged 65 years and over. Each subject underwent a comprehensive dental and radiographic examination by one examiner. Periodontal attachment loss observed in the panoramic radiographs was divided into three diagnostic categories: infrabony defects, horizontal bone loss, and furcation lesions. The number of teeth with apical periodontitis lesions, the number of carious teeth, and restorations, type of dentures and wear duration, intrabony root remains, impacted teeth, smoking status, educational level and self-reported medical history of the participants were recorded. Extent of tooth loss was significantly higher in females than males and increased with increasing age (p < 0.05). Tooth loss was significantly associated with educational levels; lower literacy level was found to be associated with a higher number of missing teeth (p < 0.01). Also, as the educational levels of the participants increased, the number of infrabony defects, furcation lesions and number of carious teeth decreased (p < 0.05). Low literacy level and female gender are found to be high-risk groups for tooth loss. Community-based oral disease prevention programs should be implemented to reduce the risk for tooth loss in this population. (C) 2006 Elsevier Ireland Ltd. All rights reserved.