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Dental status and dental caries in 85-year-old Danes


Poul Holm-Pedersen, DDS, Dr. Odont., Copenhagen Gerontological Oral Health Research Center, University of Copenhagen, School of Dentistry, 20 Nørre Alle, DK-2200 Copenhagen N, Denmark.
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Objectives:  This study reports findings on the dental status and the prevalence of dental caries among a group of 85-year-old Danes from the Glostrup 1914 Cohort, Denmark. The purpose of the study was to analyse whether caries experience was related to number of teeth and to indicators of functional ability and cognitive function.

Methods:  A total of 191 individuals (78 men and 113 women) participated in a cross-sectional population study conducted in 2000. Using mobile dental equipment, a clinical oral examination and an interview were administered to all participants in their homes. Functional ability was measured by the Mob-H scale and cognitive function was assessed by the Mini-Mental State Examination.

Results:  Fifty-nine per cent of the participants had their own natural teeth and for the dentate participants, the mean number of teeth was 13 (range 1–27). A high prevalence of active caries on coronal and root surfaces was observed. Older adults with few natural teeth had a higher prevalence of active coronal and root caries and a higher unmet treatment need than older adults with many teeth. Further, the study showed that 85-year-old persons with reduced functional ability and cognitive impairment tended to have more active caries than 85-year-olds with no impairment.

Conclusions:  A substantial proportion of 85-year-old individuals had retained a natural dentition; however, active dental caries is a problem of concern among the most elderly.