Objectives: Middle-aged and older adults are retaining teeth and avoiding dentures, which should impact quality of life. The aims of our study were to investigate tooth loss and chewing ability and their association with oral- and general-health-related quality of life and life satisfaction.
Methods: A random sample of 45- to 54-year-olds from Adelaide, South Australia, was surveyed by self-complete questionnaire in 2004-2005 (n = 879, response rate = 43.8%). Health-related quality of life was measured with the Oral Health Impact Profile 14-item version and EuroQol Visual Analogue Scale instruments and life satisfaction by the Satisfaction with Life Scale. Functional tooth units were recorded at oral examinations performed by calibrated dentists on 709 persons (completion rate = 80.7%).
Results: Number of functional teeth was positively associated with chewing ability (beta = 0.31, P < 0.01). In multivariate analyses, controlling for number of functional teeth and other explanatory variables spanning dental visit pattern, dental behaviour, socio-demographics and socio-economic status, chewing ability was negatively associated with oral-health-related impacts (beta = -0.37, P < 0.01) and positively associated with general health (beta = 0.10, P < 0.05) and well-being (beta = 0.16, P < 0.01).
Conclusions: Chewing ability was related to oral-health-related quality of life and general health, possibly reflecting the impact of chewing on food choice and enjoyment of meals and diet, and also indicated the importance of oral health to general well-being.