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. Spring 2002;62(2):70-7.
doi: 10.1111/j.1752-7325.2002.tb03425.x.

General Health Status and Changes in Chewing Ability in Older Canadians Over Seven Years


General Health Status and Changes in Chewing Ability in Older Canadians Over Seven Years

David Locker et al. J Public Health Dent. .


Objectives: The purpose of this study was to describe the onset of and recovery from chewing problems in an older adult population over a seven-year period and to describe factors associated with these changes. Of particular interest was the relationship between general health and changes in oral functioning.

Methods: The data came from a longitudinal study of community-dwelling individuals who were aged 50 years and older when first recruited. Data were collected at baseline (n = 907) and at three (n = 611) and seven-year (n = 425) follow-ups. Oral function was assessed by means of a six-item index of chewing ability. Data were weighted to account for loss to follow-up using weights derived from the seven-year response proportions for dentate and edentulous subjects. Logistic regression analysis using backward stepwise selection was used to identify predictors of onset and recovery.

Results: At baseline, 25 percent of subjects reported a problem chewing. This rose to 26 percent at three years and 34 percent at seven years. The seven-year incidence of chewing dysfunction was 19 percent. Of those with a chewing problem at baseline, 21 percent did not have a problem at seven years. A logistic regression model predicting the seven-year incidence of chewing problems indicated that subjects aged 65 years or older, the edentulous, those rating their oral health as poor, those without dental insurance and those without a regular source of dental care were more likely to be an incident case. In addition, a variable denoting the number of chronic medical conditions at baseline also entered the model. A logistic regression model predicting recovery indicated that older subjects, the edentulous, those from low-income households, and those with limitations in activities of daily living were less likely to recover over the observation period.

Conclusion: The results of this study indicate a marked increase in the prevalence of chewing problems in this older adult population over the seven-year observation period. Poorer general health at baseline increased the probability of the onset of a chewing problem and decreased the probability of recovery.

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