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Wu, B., B.L. Plassman, Jersey Liang, and L. Wei. 2007. "Cognitive function and dental care utilization among community-dwelling older adults." American Journal of Public Health, 97(12): 2216-2221.
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.