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Dental health behaviors, dentition, and mortality in the elderly: the leisure world cohort study.

  • Author(s): Paganini-Hill, Annlia
  • White, Stuart C
  • Atchison, Kathryn A
  • et al.
Abstract

In the last decade the effect of oral health on the general health and mortality of elderly people has attracted attention. We explored the association of dental health behaviors and dentition on all-cause mortality in 5611 older adults followed from 1992 to 2009 (median = 9 years) and calculated risk estimates using Cox regression analysis in men and women separately. Toothbrushing at night before bed, using dental floss everyday, and visiting the dentist were significant risk factors for longevity. Never brushing at night increased risk 20-35% compared with brushing everyday. Never flossing increased risk 30% compared with flossing everyday. Not seeing a dentist within the last 12 months increased risk 30-50% compared with seeing a dentist two or more times. Mortality also increased with increasing number of missing teeth. Edentulous individuals (even with dentures) had a 30% higher risk of death compared with those with 20+ teeth. Oral health behaviors help maintain natural, healthy and functional teeth but also appear to promote survival in older adults.

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