Oral health, health, and health-related quality of life

Med Care. 1995 Nov;33(11 Suppl):NS57-77. doi: 10.1097/00005650-199511001-00008.


Health-related quality of life is a multidimensional concept with five broad domains: opportunity/resilience, health perception, functional states, impairments/diseases, and duration of life. It addresses the tradeoff between how long and how well people live. The health-related quality of life approach has provided greater opportunity for investigation of the interrelations among oral health, health, and related outcomes. The inclusion of patient-driven measures, such as perceptions and functional status, is critical. Oral health-related quality of life measures are being developed and used in research on aging populations. Clinical measures of oral health, perceptions of general and oral well-being, and reported physical, social, and psychological functioning are independent, but correlated, components of overall oral health-related quality of life. An oral health-related quality of life approach benefits 1) clinical practitioners in selecting treatments and monitoring patient outcomes; 2) researchers in identifying determinants of health, tracking levels of health risk factors, and determining use of services in populations; and 3) policy-makers establishing program and institutional priorities, policies, and funding decisions. This overview indicates substantial value in pursuing several recommendations. A theoretical framework from which concepts, measures, and models can be derived must be developed to address oral health, oral health-related quality of life, health, and health-related quality of life. Oral health outcomes or states must be identified and classified along some continuum of impairment, function, disability, and opportunity. Indicators of appropriate concepts and domains must be adapted or established. Extended analyses on the relations among oral health, oral health-related quality of life, health, and health-related quality of life should be conducted with use of the Boston VA Normative Aging Study and other appropriate data sets.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Activities of Daily Living
  • Aging / physiology
  • Dental Health Surveys*
  • Health Status Indicators*
  • Humans
  • Longevity
  • Oral Health*
  • Quality of Life*
  • Sickness Impact Profile
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • United States / epidemiology
  • Veterans