Objectives: The purpose of this study is to investigate the oral health-related quality of life (OHRQOL) in the US population by sociodemographic factors, perception of dental needs, reported dental visits, and saliva indicators.
Methods: Data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) 2003-2004 were used. NHANES measured OHRQOL by a modified version of the Oral Health Impact Profile.
Results: The study had 6,183 subjects who averaged an OHRQOL score of 2.8 points. About 40% had painful aching in the mouth during the last year on at least one occasion. Perceived need to relieve dental pain was the strongest risk factor for poor OHRQOL (resulting in a higher score by 5.2 points), followed by perceived need for a denture or feeling of dry mouth (each resulting in a higher score by about 2 points).
Conclusions: OHRQOL is the poorest among those with perceived dental needs especially those with the perceived need to relieve dental pain.