Study Examines Whether Number of Teeth Contributes to Morbidity
In an effort to answer whether the number of teeth contributes to compression of morbidity, a prospective cohort study has found that individuals with ≥ 20 teeth have a lower risk of transitioning from a healthy state to a disabled or deceased state than subjects with fewer teeth. The study measured compression of morbidity as an extension of healthy life expectancy, a shortening of life expectancy with disability, and overall life expectancy.
In the paper, “Dental Status and Compression of Life Expectancy With Disability,” published in the Journal of Dental Research, Japanese investigators used a self-reported baseline survey of subjects age 65 and older. The authors followed the onset of functional disability and all-cause mortality for 1374 days. A sex-stratified illness-death model was applied to estimate adjusted hazard ratios for the three health transitions (healthy to disabled, healthy to deceased, and disabled to deceased). After adjusting for age, denture use, socioeconomic status, health status, and health behavior, differences in healthy life expectancy, life expectancy with disability, and overall life expectancy were estimated based on the number of teeth.
Compared to subjects with fewer teeth, individuals with ≥ 20 teeth had a lower risk of transitioning from healthy to disabled, healthy to deceased, or disabled to deceased. In addition, among subjects age 85 and older, those with ≥ 20 teeth had a longer life expectancy and healthy life expectancy than edentulous individuals or those with ≤ 19 teeth. This research suggests that oral health contributes to more than just quality of life; it may also support overall health and prolonged life expectancy.