Social relations as determinants of oral health among persons over the age of 80 years

Kirsten Avlund, Poul Holm-Pedersen, Douglas E. Morse, Matti Viitanen, Bengt Winblad

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objective: To analyze whether social relations during a 7-year follow-up influence oral health among generally healthy, community-dwelling persons over the age of 80 years. Method: The present investigation is based on a subsample of 129 dentate community-dwelling individuals from The Kungsholmen Elders Oral Health Study (KEOHS), which included data from interviews and oral examinations. Social relations were measured in terms of marital status, living alone, frequency of contacts, number of confidants, and satisfaction with social contacts and with the frequency of contacts. Oral health was measured in terms of coronal caries and root caries. Results: The primary findings of the adjusted multivariate logistic regression analysis were that persons who lived alone or who became alone during the 7 years prior to the dental examination had greater odds of having coronal caries (odds ratio (OR): 2.4, 95% CI: 1.0-5.7) than those who continually lived with others, and that persons who were continuously dissatisfied with the frequency of their social contacts were more likely to have root caries than those who reported a sustained satisfaction with the frequency of their social contacts (OR: 2.9, 95% CI: 1.2-7.2). Conclusion: This study suggests that social relations are related to the oral health status of old-old individuals. From a psychosocial perspective, our findings contribute to a deeper understanding of the background of oral health status in older adults.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)454-462
Number of pages9
JournalCommunity Dentistry and Oral Epidemiology
Issue number6
StatePublished - Dec 2003


  • Aging
  • Caries
  • Oral health
  • Social relations

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Dentistry
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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