Objective: To explore whether having less than 21 teeth is associated with poorer general health in a representative population sample of South Australians.
Methods: Data were from a cross-sectional state-based survey, conducted from September to December 2013. Complete data were available for 2,908 participants (58 percent response rate). General health-related quality of life (HrQOL), as measured by the EuroQol instrument (EQ-5D-5L), was the main outcome measure. Total disutility scores were calculated, with the five individual EQ-5D dimensions then dichotomized into “no problems” and “at least one problem.” The main explanatory variable was self-reported missing teeth, as assessed by having <21 teeth versus 21+ teeth in a questionnaire.
Results: Overall, disutility was low (0.09) (ranges from 0 to 1, with high scores indicating poorer general health). In multivariable analysis, total disutility was positively associated with older age, lower annual household income, lower levels of physical activity, being a current tobacco smoker, receiving mental health treatment and <21 teeth. When individual dimensions were considered, missing teeth remained significantly associated with mobility problems (PR 1.26, 95 percent CI 1.06, 1.50) and pain/discomfort (PR 1.16, 95 percent CI 1.06, 1.27).
Conclusions: Missing teeth was associated with poor general health status as measured by EQ-5D-5L disutility. The relationship was especially evident with respect to mobility and pain/discomfort. The findings emphasize the importance of oral health as predictors of general health.
- health-related quality of life
- physical activity
- population survey