Having fewer than 21 teeth associated with poorer general health among South Australians

Lisa Jamieson, David Brennan, Marco A. Peres, Liana Luzzi, Caroline Miller, Jacqui Bowden, Nikki McCaffrey

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Citations (Scopus)


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.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)216-224
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Public Health Dentistry
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2017


  • adults
  • disutility
  • epidemiology
  • EQ-5D
  • EQ-5D-5L
  • health-related quality of life
  • mobility
  • pain/discomfort
  • physical activity
  • population survey


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