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J Can Dent Assoc. 2008 Nov;74(9):807.

Dental caries, problems perceived and use of services among institutionalized elderly in 3 regions of Quebec, Canada.

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Faculty of medicine, University of Montreal, Montreal, QC.



To determine the changes, since 1980, in the number of nontreated caries in elderly people who have retained their teeth and are in residential and long-term care centres (CHSLDs) in the province of Quebec, Canada, and the changes in their perception of their oral health problems and use of dental services.


A secondary analysis of data from a 2004-2005 survey about the oral health problems of people who were at least 65 years of age and living in CHSLD institutions in the Montreal, Montérégie and Quebec City regions was done. The inclusion criterion for the secondary analysis was that the residents had to have at least 1 natural tooth. Data from the 152 residents who met the inclusion criterion were analyzed, and compared with those from a similar study done in 1980.


Since 1980, the average number of teeth retained rose from 11.05 (SD 6.78) teeth to 12.91 (SD 7.82) in 2004. The average number of decayed teeth requiring treatment fell from 2.43 (SD 2.88) to 1.62 (SD 2.53); 49.3% (75/152) of the elderly participants had caries, compared with 74.1% in 1980. Only 3.4% (5/149) of the participants reported problems with, or pain or discomfort in their gums, compared with 8.9% in 1980. About half (48.7% or 74/152) of the participants examined needed periodontal treatment; 63.8% (83/130) had had recourse to services within the previous 5 years. The last time care was sought was, on average ,7.1 years ago, compared with 11.0 years in 1980.


Between 1980 and 2004, the number of retained teeth increased and the number of untreated caries fell among institutionalized elderly people. Their perception of the need for dental care remained poor. Their use of services improved, but was not ideal, given the numerous oral health problems diagnosed in this population.

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