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Community Dent Oral Epidemiol. 2009 Aug;37(4):325-32. doi: 10.1111/j.1600-0528.2009.00467.x.

Does oral health say anything about survival in later life? Findings in a Swedish cohort of 80+ years at baseline.

Author information

  • 1Department of Periodontology, The Institute for Postgraduate Dental Education, Jönköping, Sweden. helene.thorstensson@lj.se



Oral health is an integral part of general health; oral health contributes to and is influenced by a nexus of inputs from biological, psychological, and social functioning. Little is known about the relationship between markers of oral health and subsequent survival in late life. Objectives: The aim of this study was to examine the relative importance of oral health indicators in the context of demographic and psychosocial variables on subsequent survival during an 8-year period in a population-based sample of the oldest-old.


The study sample comprised 357 individuals with a median age of 86 years who were selected from participants in the comprehensive longitudinal Origins of Variance in the Old-Old: Octogenarian Twins (OCTO-Twin) study, which examined monozygotic and dizygotic twins aged 80 years and older on five occasions at 2-year intervals. The OCTO-Twin study includes a broad spectrum of biobehavioural measures of health and functional capacity, personality, well-being, and interpersonal functioning. Oral health variables were number of teeth, per cent decayed and filled surfaces (DFS%), and periodontal disease experience. A longevity quotient (LQ), the ratio between years actually lived and those statistically expected, was determined. The survival categories were shorter than expected, as expected, or longer-than-expected. Multivariate analyses and the Kaplan-Meier method were used in the survival analyses.


No associations between LQ and number of teeth, edentulousness, and periodontal disease experience were found. But survival of men with severe periodontal disease experience was shorter than expected. DFS% was significantly associated with survival. Individuals with a low number of decayed and filled surfaces (DFS) had a shorter-than-expected survival time compared with those with high DFS scores. The overall predictor of survival was cognitive status, independent of age and gender when dental variables were analysed in the context of psychosocial factors. In addition, number of teeth, smoking, and better financial status in childhood and during working life were also significant predictors.


Oral health was significantly associated with subsequent survival in a sample of oldest-old individuals, although psychosocial factors were stronger predictors.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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