• elderly;
  • dental health behavior;
  • functional capacity;
  • community

doi: 10.1111/j.1741-2358.2012.00654.x

Relationships between higher-level functional capacity and dental health behaviors in community-dwelling older adults

Objective:  The aim of the present study was to elucidate relationships between higher-level functional capacity and dental health behaviours in community-dwelling older adults.

Background:  In ageing society, it is necessary to promote oral health in the elderly, because good oral health is a significant contributing factor to good general health. Higher-level functional capacity has been considered a crucial factor for successful independent living in the elderly. We hypothesised that functional capacity is a significant indicator of dental health behaviours.

Methods:  Three hundred and thirty-eight adults aged 65 years or older were enrolled in this study. Higher-level functional capacity was evaluated using the Tokyo Metropolitan Institute of Gerontology Index of Competence (TMIG-index). Univariate and multivariate models were constructed with dental health behaviours, such as regular visits to a dentist, brushing frequency and use of extra cleaning devices, as the dependent variable, and the total TMIG-index score and its subcategory scores as the principal independent variable.

Results:  Univariate logistic regression analysis demonstrated a significant correlation between low TMIG-index and ‘intellectual activity’ subcategory scores to lack of regular visits to a dentist and not using extra cleaning devices. Using a multivariate model, significant relationships remained after adjusting for a number of variables including demographics, medical status, lifestyle and number of remaining teeth.

Conclusion:  Intellectual activity of higher-level functional capacity may be an accurate indicator of dental health behaviours in community-dwelling older adults. Intellectual activity should be taken into consideration to effectively promote oral health behaviours and oral hygiene in elderly persons living independently.