Self-reported oral status and oral health: an exploratory research in the province Flevoland
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Background: Oral health is an important part of the overall health. Bad oral health can result in serious health problems such as diabetes, atherosclerosis, and pulmonary inflammation. Very little data are available on the oral health status of the Dutch population. Therefore, the aim of this study is to get insight in the oral status and oral health of the inhabitants of Flevoland. Additionally, the relation between age and frailty was determined and associated with oral status. Methods: In this exploratory, cross-sectional study, 1154 people (≥19 years of age) were invited to complete a questionnaire on oral health, oral status, and frailty. The Oral Status Score (OSS) was calculated and associations between OSS, frailty, and other variables were determined. The correlation between frailty and age was calculated. Results: 567 filled out the questionnaire (49% response rate) whereof the data of 532 participants were analysed. 39.7% had remaining teeth, 18.8% were edentulous, and 41.5% had implants and/or prosthesis. 19.0% of the total population was frail (GFI ≥4). An important finding between frail and non-frail people was the significantly lower mark frail people gave for their oral health. Education level showed an association with the OSS: lower educated people showed worst OSS and the people with a high education level showed best OSS. People who visited the dentist or dental hygienist twice a year showed the best OSS. In addition, people who are brushing their teeth at least twice a day showed the best OSS in comparison to people with a lower brushing teeth frequency. No correlation was found between age and frailty. Conclusion: Although no significant differences were found in oral status and oral health between frail and non-frail people, the results of this study showed negative effects of low teeth brushing frequencies and dentist visits on the oral status. Since bad oral health is associated with negative consequences for overall health, it is important to increase awareness among inhabitants and caregivers about the importance of good oral health. Moreover, the results of this study showed that there is a need for additional research to find out what the exact effect is of age on frailty and whether frailty is a better measure than age when looking at oral status or oral health.