Objectives: The goals of this investigation were (1) to evaluate the Oral Health Status Index in relation to demographic characteristics, socioeconomic status, and preventive behaviors of an adult population; and (2) to understand how individual index components performed as indicators of oral health status compared to the composite index. Methods: The Oral Health Status Index (OHSI) was used on a probability sample of adults, aged 18–93 years, living in the Detroit tricounty area. Data were collected on 509 subjects via in-home dental examinations. Bivariate and multivariate analyses were used to compare the OHSI and its components, including decayed, missing, and replaced teeth, free ends, and moderate and severe periodontal disease measures. Results: The mean OHSI score for subjects was 77.3 (se=1.83) with a range of -8.0 to 100.0. In regression analyses, OHSI scores were positively correlated with subjects' education level, self-rated oral health scores, and frequency of dental checkups and negatively correlated with age, nonwhite race, and smoking. Of the index components, missing teeth performed well as an indicator of oral health status. Missing teeth were positively correlated with age, nonwhite race, and smoking and negatively correlated with education level, self-rated oral health, and use of Medicaid. About 53 percent of variance in OHSI scores was explained by the multivariate models, compared to 46 percent for missing teeth.
Conclusions: Choosing an indicator of oral health status likely will depend upon the characteristics of the population to be studied. As a composite measure of oral health status, the OHSI performed acceptably; however, missing teeth, an index component, also worked well. Continued evaluation of the OHSI is warranted.