Socioeconomic and psychosocial correlates of oral health


Correspondence to:

Jason M. Armfield,

Australian Research Centre for Population Oral Health,

School of Dentistry,

University of Adelaide,

122 Frome Road,

Adelaide, SA 5000, Australia.




It has been proposed that psychosocial variables are important determinants of oral health outcomes. In addition, the effect of socioeconomic factors in oral health has been argued to work through the shaping of psychosocial stressors and resources. This study therefore aimed to examine the role of psychosocial factors in oral health after controlling for selected socioeconomic and behavioural factors.


Logistic and generalised linear regression analyses were conducted on self-rated oral health, untreated decayed teeth and number of decayed, missing and filled teeth (DMFT) from dentate participants in a national survey of adult oral health (= 5364) conducted in 2004–2006 in Australia.


After controlling for all other variables, more frequent dental visiting and toothbrushing were associated with poorer self-rated oral health, more untreated decay and higher DMFT. Pervasive socioeconomic inequalities were demonstrated, with higher income, having a tertiary degree, higher self-perceived social standing and not being employed all significantly associated with oral health after controlling for the other variables. The only psychosocial variables related to self-rated oral health were the stressors perceived stress and perceived constraints. Psychosocial resources were not statistically associated with self-rated oral health and no psychosocial variables were significantly associated with either untreated decayed teeth or DMFT after controlling for the other variables.


Although the role of behavioural and socioeconomic variables as determinants of oral health was supported, the role of psychosocial variables in oral health outcomes received mixed support.