Oral Health–Related Quality of Life and Life-Space Mobility in Community-dwelling Older Adults


Address correspondence to Sonia K. Makhija, Department of General Dental Sciences, School of Dentistry, University of Alabama at Birmingham, 1530 3rd Ave South, SDB 110, Birmingham, AL 35294. E-mail: smakhija@uab.edu


OBJECTIVES: To quantify the associations between measures of oral health–related quality of life (OHRQoL) and life-space mobility (LSM) in community-dwelling older adults.

DESIGN: Cross-sectional study using a 54-item OHRQoL questionnaire.

SETTING: Five counties in central Alabama: Jefferson and Tuscaloosa (urban), and Bibb, Hale, and Pickens (rural).

PARTICIPANTS: The 288 dental study volunteers were recruited from participants in the University of Alabama at Birmingham Study of Aging, a longitudinal study of mobility in community-dwelling adults aged 65 and older.

MEASUREMENTS: Participants completed an in-home interview about their OHRQoL and LSM. Life-space was assessed by asking questions about where and how often participants got to areas ranging from the home to beyond town and the degree of independence in getting there. Unadjusted and adjusted regression models were used to quantify associations between OHRQoL and LSM. Other factors examined were age, race, sex, income, education, residence, transportation difficulty, marital status, depressive symptoms, and comorbidity.

RESULTS: Unadjusted and adjusted analyses suggested significant associations between OHRQoL and LSM in oral functional limitation, oral pain and discomfort, oral disadvantage, and self-rated oral health.

CONCLUSION: OHRQoL decrements that participants reported were associated with less LSM, suggesting that perceptions of oral well-being have a significant effect on mobility and the social participation of older adults.