Sabbah W, Tsakos G, Chandola T, Newton T, Kawachi I, Sheiham A, Marmot MG, Watt RG. The relationship between social network, social support and periodontal disease among older Americans. J Clin Periodontol 2011; doi: 10.1111/j.1600-051X.2011.01713.x.
Aim: The objectives of this study were to examine the relationship between social network, social support and periodontal disease among older American adults and to test whether social network and support mediates socioeconomic inequality in periodontal disease.
Materials and Methods: Data pertaining to participants aged 60 years and over from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey 2001–2004 were used. Periodontal disease variables were extent loss of periodontal attachment 3 mm and moderate periodontitis. Social support and networks were indicated by the need for emotional support, number of close friends and marital status.
Results: Widowed and those with lowest number of friends had higher rates of the extent of loss of periodontal attachment (1.27, 95% CI: 1.03, 1.58) and (1.22, 95% CI: 1.03, 1.45), respectively. Marital status and number of friends were not significantly associated with moderate periodontitis after adjusting for behavioural factors. The need for more emotional support was not related to periodontal disease in this analysis. Social networks and support had no impact on socioeconomic inequality in periodontal disease.
Conclusion: Certain aspects of social network, namely being widowed and having fewer friends, were linked to the extent of loss of periodontal attachment but not to the definition of moderate periodontitis, in older adults.