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Keywords:

  • education level;
  • functional tooth units;
  • oral health status;
  • universal public health insurance

Abstract

Objectives

The aim of this study was to examine whether there is an educational gradient in dentition status among Japanese adults who are under the universal public health insurance system.

Methods

Subjects were 1201 community residents aged 55–75 years as of May 2005 who completed a self-administered questionnaire and had a standard clinical oral examination. Analysis focused on the association of three education levels (junior high school, senior high school, and any college or higher education) with dentition status.

Results

The proportion of subjects with 20 or more teeth (P < 0.001), number of teeth present (P = 0.037), number of filled teeth (P = 0.016), and two types of functional tooth units (FTUs): FTUs with natural teeth (n-FTUs) (P < 0.001) and FTUs with natural teeth and artificial teeth on implant-supported and fixed prostheses (nif-FTUs) (P < 0.001) were significantly associated with education level after adjusting for confounders. The significant trend of these values in dental indexes indicated a poorer dentition status with a lower education level.

Conclusions

The results suggest that the level of education has an independent impact on dentition status in a group of Japanese adults, even after taking into account oral health-related factors. Therefore, providing appropriate oral health information from an early age within a compulsory school education program appears necessary to enhance health literacy and lessen the inequalities in dental health by educational level.