Cognitive function and dental care utilization among community-dwelling older adults.
OBJECTIVES: We sought to investigate the relationship between varying levels of cognitive function and dental care utilization. METHODS: Using data obtained from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (1999-2002), we performed weighted descriptive and multivariate logistic regression analyses on 1984 individuals with at least 1 tooth and who were 60 years and older. RESULTS: Multivariate analyses suggested that level of cognitive function was associated with dental care utilization. At a higher level of cognitive functioning, individuals were more likely to have had more frequent dental visits. In addition, a higher level of socioeconomic status, healthy lifestyle, and worse self-rated oral health-related symptoms were more likely to indicate a higher frequency of dental care utilization. By contrast, poorer oral health status as determined by clinical examinations was negatively associated with frequency of dental visits. CONCLUSIONS: The results suggest that community-dwelling older adults with low cognitive function are at risk for less frequent use of dental care. Oral health serves as a mediating factor between cognitive function and dental care utilization. There is a great need to improve oral health awareness and education among older adults, caregivers, and health care professionals.
Wu, B; Plassman, BL; Liang, J; Wei, L
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