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J Am Geriatr Soc. 2011 Mar;59(3):519-23. doi: 10.1111/j.1532-5415.2010.03311.x.

Oral health status and self-reported functional dependence in community-dwelling older adults.

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School of Dentistry, National Yang Ming University, Taipei, Taiwan.



To assess the strength of association between graded groups of oral health status and self-reported functional dependence in community-dwelling older adults.


Population-based cross-sectional study.


National Health and Nutritional Examination Survey (NHANES) 1999 to 2004.


Three thousand eight hundred fifty-six participants aged 60 and older (mean age 71.2) without missing values in the examined correlates.


Oral health status was evaluated according to edentulism, severity of periodontal disease, and recommendation of periodontal care and compared with that of healthy controls. Self-reported functional dependence was assessed according to 19 questions in five domains: activities of daily living (ADLs), instrumental activities of daily living (IADLs), leisure and social activities (LSAs), lower extremity mobility (LEM), and general physical activities (GPAs).


After controlling for demographic and dental variables, health-related behaviors, C-reactive protein, and comorbidities, edentulism was significantly associated with disability in IADLs (odds ratio (OR)=1.58), LSAs (OR=1.63), LEM (OR=1.31), and GPAs (OR=1.45) compared with healthy controls. Likewise, severe periodontitis was associated with disability in IADLs (OR=1.58), LSAs (OR=1.70), and LEM (OR=1.63). The trends toward disability in IADLs, LSAs, LEM, and GPAs were statistically significant across increasing severity of oral health problems.


Poor oral health, specifically edentulism and severe periodontitis, is associated with multiple domains of late-life disability, but a causal relationship cannot be established based on current study design.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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