Preventive dental behaviors and their association with oral health status in older white men

J Dent Res. 1999 Apr;78(4):869-77. doi: 10.1177/00220345990780040701.


While prevention practices are widely encouraged, the link between the performance of preventive behaviors and oral health status has rarely been examined. This study investigates the association between preventive dental behaviors (recent and long-term) and oral health status and compares the strength of such associations. Longitudinal data over six time points on 649 dentate white men were obtained from the VA Dental Longitudinal Study (DLS). Participants' oral health was measured through dental examinations, and preventive dental behaviors--i.e., toothbrushing, flossing, using interdental devices, seeking dental prophylaxis, and undergoing dental treatment-were assessed by self-report. Oral health status was measured in terms of (1) functioning teeth, (2) sound-equivalent teeth, (3) decayed, missing, and filled teeth, and (4) decayed and filled root surfaces. Pearson correlation and linear regression analysis revealed significant positive associations between most preventive behaviors and measures of oral health status. Dental prophylaxis emerged as the strongest predictor of oral health status. Long-term preventive dental behavior measures explained more variance in oral health status than short-term preventive behaviors measured cross-sectionally.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Boston
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • DMF Index
  • Health Behavior / ethnology*
  • Humans
  • Linear Models
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Oral Health*
  • Oral Hygiene* / statistics & numerical data
  • Self Care / statistics & numerical data
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • Time Factors
  • White People* / statistics & numerical data