Dental health among homebound elderly

J Public Health Dent. 1993 Winter;53(1):12-6. doi: 10.1111/j.1752-7325.1993.tb02665.x.


Currently, little is known about the oral health status, perceived oral health needs, or the extent of dental utilization among community-dwelling, functionally dependent elderly. The purpose of this study was to describe the dental health of functionally dependent elderly living at home and receiving community-based support services. The functional limitations experienced by these elderly living at home are comparable to functional limitations experienced by institutionalized elderly and these limitations impact on oral hygiene and access to dental care. Oral examinations and questionnaires were completed on 50 clients of an urban social service agency. Subjects had a mean of 8.8 teeth/person, with 44 percent completely edentulous. Two subgroups identified from the questionnaire--those who perceived themselves homebound (n = 30) and those who did not (n = 20), did not differ by age, gender, education level, or race. Respondents reported being homebound an average of 4.5 (+/- 2.9) years. The mean decayed, filled teeth for the perceived homebound group was 5.1, and 7.3 for the group that did not perceive themselves as homebound, with both groups averaging less than of one tooth/person with active root decay. Health care and social policy agendas must address the changing scope of oral health needs and limited access to dental care experienced by an aging population retaining more of their natural dentition.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Analysis of Variance
  • DMF Index
  • Delivery of Health Care / economics
  • Delivery of Health Care / organization & administration
  • Dental Care for Aged* / economics
  • Dental Care for Aged* / statistics & numerical data
  • Dental Caries / epidemiology
  • Female
  • Health Behavior
  • Health Services Accessibility*
  • Health Services Needs and Demand*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Ohio / epidemiology
  • Oral Health