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Keywords:

  • oral health;
  • oral health–related quality of life;
  • elderly;
  • disabilities;
  • community dwelling

OBJECTIVES: To examine, in community-dwelling elderly persons with disabilities, the association between oral health—related quality of life (OHRQOL) as measured using the 14-item Oral Health Impact Profile (OHIP-14) and specific oral health, health, and disability status variables; life satisfaction; living alone; and low income.

DESIGN: Observational cross-sectional.

SETTING: A Medicare demonstration conducted in 19 counties in three states.

PARTICIPANTS: Six hundred forty-one disabled, cognitively intact, community-dwelling individuals aged 65 and older.

MEASUREMENTS: The subjects' OHRQOL was assessed using the OHIP-14, which was scored using three different methods. Data on oral health, health and functional status, life satisfaction, prior health services use, and sociodemographics were collected using interviewer-administered questionnaires.

RESULTS: The participants' mean age was 79.1, and they were dependent in an average of 1.8 activities of daily living (ADLs); 43.1% were edentulous, 77.4% wore a denture, 40.4% felt that they were currently in need of dental treatment, and 64.7% had not had a dental examination in the previous 6 months. Seven of the 16 variables of interest had significant bivariate relationships using three OHIP scoring methods. Logistic regression analysis found that poor OHRQOL was significantly associated with perceived need for dental treatment (odds ratio (OR)=2.61), poor self-rated health (OR=2.29), poor (OR=2.00) and fair (OR=1.73) mental health, fewer than 17 teeth (OR=1.74), and relatively poor cognitive functioning (OR=1.52).

CONCLUSION: OHRQOL is associated with some (perceived need for dental treatment, poor self-rated health, worse mental health, fewer teeth, and relatively poor cognitive status) but not all (e.g., ADL and instrumental ADL dependence) measures of oral health, health, and disability status and not with life satisfaction, living alone, or low income.