Oral Health Knowledge and Dental Visits in Community Living Older Adults in Rural Appalachia-West Virginia: A Cross-Sectional Analysis

R. Constance Wiener, Alcinda Trickett Shockey

Abstract


Introduction: The purpose of this study was to investigate the relationship between oral health knowledge and dental visits of older adults in an Appalachian county.

Methods: A cross-sectional study design was used.  Surveys were returned from 205 older adults (50 years and above) from an Appalachian county.  Questions were asked about oral health, last dental visit and sociodemographics.

Results: The variable of interest, oral health knowledge, was associated with dental visit.  Having low oral health knowledge increased odds of having delayed a dental visit beyond a year (unadjusted odds ratio: 2.99; 95% Confidence interval: 1.70, 5.28).  Even after considering the number of existing teeth, and controlling for age, sex, education and smoking, the association remained positive and independently significant (adjusted odds ratio: 2.25; 95% Confidence interval: 1.05, 4.82).  Education was the only sociodemographic variable associated with last dental visit

Conclusion: The surveyed older adults have a need for increasing dental visits within the previous year.  Increasing dental knowledge was associated with odds of increased dental visits.  Improving dental knowledge may be a strategy to improve the number of older adults having a dental visit within the year.

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