Oral health and mortality in the Golestan Cohort Study

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Abstract

Background:

Previous studies have found associations between oral health and mortality, but the majority of previous studies have been conducted in high-income countries.

Methods:

We used data from the Golestan Cohort Study, a study of 50 045 people aged 40 to 75 years in north eastern Iran, recruited from January 2004 to June 2008. Tooth loss and decayed, missing and filled teeth (DMFT) were assessed by trained physicians. Frequency of tooth brushing and use of dentures were self-reported. Cause-specific mortality was ascertained through March 2014. We calculated hazard ratios (HRs) and 95% confidence intervals (95% CIs) for the associations between the oral health variables, overall mortality and cause-specific mortality.

Results:

Participants with the greatest tooth loss had increased overall mortality (HR 1.43; 95% CI: 1.28, 1.61) compared with those with the least tooth loss; similar estimates were observed for DMFT score. For cause-specific mortality, an increased risk of death was found for tooth loss and mortality from cardiovascular disease (HR 1.33; 95% CI: 1.13, 1.56), cancer (HR 1.30; 95% CI: 1.03, 1.65) and injuries (HR 1.99; 95% CI: 1.28, 3.09). The associations between oral health and injury mortality were strongly attenuated after exclusion of participants with comorbid conditions at baseline. No statistical interaction was found between denture use and tooth loss or DMFT on mortality.

Conclusions:

Poor oral health appears to predict overall and cause-specific mortality in populations in economic transition. Investigation of the underlying mechanisms might provide an important contribution to reducing mortality.

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