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Relationship between dental health and 10-year mortality in a cohort of community-dwelling elderly people

Authors

  • Piia Hämäläinen,

    1. Institute of Dentistry, University of Helsinki, and Department of Oral and Maxillofacial Diseases, Helsinki University Central Hospital, Helsinki, Finland;
    2. Central Hospital of Central Finland, Department of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery, Jyväskylä, Finland;
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  • Jukka H Meurman,

    1. Institute of Dentistry, University of Helsinki, and Department of Oral and Maxillofacial Diseases, Helsinki University Central Hospital, Helsinki, Finland;
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  • Marja Keskinen,

    1. Department of Dental Services, The Center for Health and Social Services, Jyväskylä, Finland;
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  • Eino Heikkinen

    1. Finnish Center for Interdisciplinary Gerontology and Department of Health Sciences, University of Jyväskylä, Jyväskylä, Finland
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Dr Piia Hämäläinen, Department of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery, Central Hospital of Central Finland, FIN−40100 Jyväskylä, Finland
Telefax: +358-14-691688
E-mail: piia.hamalainen@helsinki.fi

Abstract

Dental examinations were carried out as part of the Evergreen project, which focuses on functional capacity and health among the elderly residents of the city of Jyväskylä, central Finland. Dental status was examined in 1990 for the whole population born in 1910 (n = 226). Mortality data were collected over 10 yr. The aim of the study was to assess the possible role of dental health as a predictor of mortality. The Kaplan–Meier method was used to analyse survival curves and Cox regression models, with the number of chronic conditions and self-rated health used as covariates in analysing the risks of death. The results showed that the more teeth or filled teeth a subject had, the smaller was their risk for death. The effect of missing teeth was significant after adjusting for the general health variables. Thus, our results support the hypothesis that poor dental health is linked to increased mortality among elderly people.

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