The relationship between lifestyle and self-reported oral health among American adults


  • Ying Liu

    Corresponding author
    1. School of Dentistry, University of Missouri at Kansas City, Kansas City, MO, USA
    • Correspondence to:

      Ying Liu,

      School of Dentistry,

      University of Missouri at Kansas City,

      Kansas City,

      MO 64108, USA.


    Search for more papers by this author



Whereas an unhealthy lifestyle is a risk factor for chronic disease, its relationship to self-reported oral health is unclear. This paper studies this relationship among American adults using two dimensions of self-reported oral health, namely: (1) the extent to which a person's teeth are in poor condition, simply called ‘bad teeth’; (2) the occurrences of negative consequences of poor oral health, simply called ‘bad experience’. The main purpose of this study is to describe and assess their relationship to four markers of lifestyles and to use the results to make recommendations on improving oral health.


Data were obtained from National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) 2005–2006. A series of logistic regression models quantified the associations between lifestyle markers with self-reported oral health.


Our major findings are that: (1) individuals who smoked every day were significantly more likely to have bad teeth and a bad oral experience than non-smokers, with risk ratios of 1.61 (95% CI 1.36, 1.92) and 1.50 (95% CI 1.24, 1.8), respectively; (2) individuals who had poor diets were more likely to report bad teeth and have bad oral experiences than those who had excellent diets, with risk ratios of 4.22 (95% CI 2.8, 6.28) and 2.88 (95% CI 1.83, 4.55), respectively, both comparisons adjusted for other demographic variables.


These results suggest that self-reported indicators of oral health could be used to guide people in making improvements in their life style that could result in better oral health, especially for disadvantaged individuals.