Does Oral Health Predict Functional Status in Late Life? Findings From a National Sample

Wei Zhang, Yan Yan Wu, Bei Wu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objective: This study aims to examine the association between oral health and the decline in functional status among middle-aged and older adults in the United States. Method: Generalized estimation equation (GEE) Poisson regression models with robust standard errors were used to analyze the longitudinal panel data (2008-2014) from the Health and Retirement Study (N = 1,243). Oral health was evaluated using self-rated oral health, poor mouth condition, and tooth loss. Decline in functional status was assessed by disabilities in activities of daily living (ADLs) and instrumental activities of daily living (IADLs). Results: Respondents with poor oral health were more likely to experience decline in ADLs/IADLs. Adjusting for sociodemographics and comorbidities attenuated the effects of oral health. Discussion: Findings suggest that oral health might be one of the important predictors of functioning decline in late life, after adjusting sociodemographics and comorbidities.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)924-944
Number of pages21
JournalJournal of Aging and Health
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jul 1 2018


  • disability
  • functional status
  • oral health

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Life-span and Life-course Studies


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