Oral status, oral hygiene habits and caries risk factors in home-dwelling elderly dependent on moderate or substantial supportive care for daily living

Community Dent Oral Epidemiol. 2012 Jun;40(3):221-9. doi: 10.1111/j.1600-0528.2011.00653.x. Epub 2011 Nov 9.


Objectives: Elderly people with disabilities have an increased risk of developing oral diseases as compared with the healthy elderly. The aim of this study was to investigate oral hygiene habits, clinical variables related to oral self-care and caries risk in elderly individuals living at home with moderate and substantial needs of home care.

Methods: A random sample of 151 elderly people with moderate needs and 151 with substantial needs of home care were examined. Data concerning general health, social conditions and oral hygiene habits were collected using a questionnaire. Data showing the prevalence of caries, plaque scores and gingival bleeding were obtained through clinical examinations.

Results: Elderly subjects with substantial needs of home nursing had more active caries (P < 0.01) and more often gingival bleeding (P < 0.05), as compared with elderly people with moderate needs. Forty-nine per cent of the elderly with moderate needs performed acceptable self-care, as compared with 25% of the individuals with substantial needs. Good self-care was associated with women, low plaque scores, less bleeding and less caries. Factors increasing the risk of having caries were low saliva secretion, high plaque scores and a large number of fillings, while having a dentist and good oral hygiene habits increased the chance of not developing caries.

Conclusions: Good oral hygiene habits were associated with less prevalence of plaque and oral disease in the elderly irrespective of extent of needs of home nursing. However, the elderly with moderate needs more often performed good self-care, indicating that the possibilities of strengthening self-care and learning new routines are better when functions are less affected.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Activities of Daily Living / psychology*
  • Aged
  • Chi-Square Distribution
  • DMF Index
  • Dental Caries / epidemiology*
  • Dental Caries / etiology
  • Dental Plaque Index
  • Female
  • Gingivitis / epidemiology
  • Home Care Services / statistics & numerical data
  • Humans
  • Logistic Models
  • Male
  • Oral Health / statistics & numerical data*
  • Oral Hygiene / psychology
  • Oral Hygiene / statistics & numerical data*
  • Risk Factors
  • Statistics, Nonparametric
  • Surveys and Questionnaires