• epidemiology;
  • elderly;
  • disability;
  • oral complaints;
  • oral health service

The aim of this study was to describe dental state, oral health problems, self-assessed ability to perform oral hygiene and utilization of oral health services in a sample of 88-year-old people (n=374) and to relate these variables to functional ability, subjective health and drug consumption. The intention was also to Identify barriers to utilization of dental care in non-institutionalized elderly people. The results of interviews showed that 46% of the subjects were dentate. Oral complaints were reported by 24% of the home living individuals. Poor health, medication and feelings of loneliness were factors associated with oral discomfort. Difficulties in performing oral hygiene activities were reported by 10% of the subjects and were correlated with functional impairments and feelings of loneliness. Utilization of dental services was correlated with dental state; 72% of the dentate and 8% of the edentulous subjects made regular dental visits. The main reason for not visiting a dentist was “no perceived need”. Independent of dental state, some factors were significantly correlated to low demand for dental services; these included feelings of loneliness, functional impairments and low school education.