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Keywords:

  • fatigue;
  • number of teeth;
  • oral health;
  • frailty;
  • aging

OBJECTIVES: To examine whether tooth loss at age 70 is associated with fatigue in a nondisabled community-dwelling population cross-sectionally at age 70 and with onset of fatigue longitudinally at 5-, 10-, and 15-year follow-ups.

SETTING: Community-based population in Copenhagen.

PARTICIPANTS: Five hundred seventy-three nondisabled 70-year-old individuals in 1984.

MEASUREMENTS: Data from interviews and a medical and oral examination. Oral health was measured according to number of teeth (0, 1–9, 10–19, ≥20). Fatigue was measured using the Avlund Mobility-Tiredness Scale on six mobility activities. Covariates, all measured at baseline, were sex, education, income, comorbidity, and smoking.

RESULTS: Bivariate logistic regression analyses showed significant cross-sectional and longitudinal associations between number of teeth at age 70 and onset of fatigue at 5- and 10- but not 15-year follow-up. The associations between having no teeth and fatigue were attenuated when adjusted for socioeconomic position and smoking.

CONCLUSION: Tooth loss is associated with onset of fatigue in old age, but the estimates are attenuated when adjusting for socioeconomic position and smoking. Tooth loss may be an early indicator of frailty.