OBJECTIVES: This study aims to evaluate the self-perception of oral health according to the physical, psychosocial and pain/discomfort dimensions related to clinical conditions and orofacial pain of elderly people living in three different environments. METHODS: This was an observational, cross-sectional, quantitative study with a population-based approach and nonprobabilistic convenience sampling that included 81 elderly people: 27 resided in institutional homes for elderly individuals, 27 resided in an urban area and 27 resided in a rural area in the interior of Paraíba (PB) in northeastern Brazil. RESULTS: The Geriatric Oral Health Assessment Index (GOHAI) was used to assess self-perception of oral health, while the Questionnaire for Screening of Patients with Temporomandibular Disorders (QST/TMD) was used to assess the influences of orofacial pain and the biofilm indexes of teeth and prostheses. There was a statistically significant difference in the GOHAI scores among the places of residence, with the worst values associated with the rural area. According to the QST/TMD, the majority of individuals were affected by TMDs, with statistical differences for both sex and income. CONCLUSION: The biofilm analysis showed a higher incidence of clinical conditions in the rural population. The place of residence also influenced self-perception and the clinical oral health condition of elderly people; the rural population presented the worst results.