OBJECTIVE: To assess oral health, health, and quality of life (QoL) of care-dependent community-living older people with and without remaining teeth who recently received formal home care.
MATERIALS AND METHODS: For this cross-sectional observational study, community-living older people (≥ 65 years), who recently (< 6 months) received formal home care, were interviewed with validated questionnaires and underwent an oral examination. Oral health, general health, medicines usage, frailty (Groningen Frailty Indicator), cognition (Minimal Mental State Examination), QoL (RAND 36), and oral health-related QoL (Oral Health Impact Profile-14) were assessed.
RESULTS: One hundred three out of 275 consecutive eligible older people (median age 79 [IQR (Inter Quartile Range) 72-85 years] participated in the study. Thirty-nine patients had remaining teeth and 64 were edentulous. Compared with edentulous older people, older people with remaining teeth scored significantly better on frailty, QoL, physical functioning, and general health. No significant differences were seen in cognition. Dental and periodontal problems were seen in more than half of the patients with remaining teeth. Two third of the edentulous patients did not visit their dentist regularly or at all.
CONCLUSIONS: Care-dependent home-dwelling older people with remaining teeth generally were less frail, scored better on physical functioning and general health and had better QoL than edentulous older people. Dental and periodontal problems were seen in approximately 50% of the elderly.
CLINICAL RELEVANCE: Notwithstanding their common dental problems, frailty, health, and QoL are better in home-dwelling older people with remaining teeth. To maintain this status, we advise not only dentists, but also health care workers and governments, to encourage people to maintain good oral health.