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Gerodontology. 1994 Dec;11(2):108-14.

Association between clinical and subjective indicators of oral health status in an older adult population.

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Department of Community Dentistry and Community, Dental Health Services Research Unit, Faculty of Dentistry, University of Toronto, Canada.


Since the mid-1970s a number of investigators have developed measures of the extent to which oral disorders compromise functional, social and psychological well-being. They have also examined the associations between clinical indicators of oral health status and these subjective indicators. In general, these associations have been inconsistent and weak. One reason for this might be that the subjective indicators employed were rudimentary and insensitive to the health outcomes of oral disorders. The development of the Oral Health Impact Profile, a more sophisticated measure of the health outcomes of oral disorders, provided a method to examine this hypothesis. Using data from an oral health survey of older adults, we examined the associations between OHIP scores and a variety of clinical indicators of tooth loss, caries and periodontal disease. Even with this measure the associations were predominantly weak, the strongest of the correlations being 0.53. We also examined the influence of personal and sociodemographic characteristics on the relationship between tooth loss and its psychosocial outcomes. Five variables reflecting expectations and resources explained as much variance in OHIP scores as did the number of missing teeth. This analysis illustrates the essential distinction between disease and health and the way in which measures of oral health can be used to pursue fundamental issues in behavioural science and health services research.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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