Oral health status and functional capacity in the elderly: a longitudinal population-based study

ABSTRACT: Introduction: The study of oral health conditions and functional dependency in elderly people represents an important step toward the comprehension of the intervenient factors in the health care of this population. Purpose: This methodological note described strategies and methods adopted in a longitudinal study which has been analyzing the association of oral health conditions with functional dependence among the elderly population in a city located in the countryside of Northeastern Brazil. Methodological aspects: The assessment of the oral health conditions among the subjects is being carried out by an intraoral epidemiological examination, in which the number of decayed teeth, the periodontal condition, the use and need for dental prosthesis, and the presence of modification in soft tissues is being evaluated. Furthermore, an epidemiological condition of temporomandibular dysfunction and xerostomia are being observed. The functional capacity is being evaluated by the Katz index, and the elderly cognitive capacity is being assessed by Mini-Mental State Examination. Main findings: The first wave of this cohort, which was conducted in 2010 and 2011, evaluated 441 elderly in a city of the Northeastern Brazil. The mean decayed, missing, and filled teeth (DMFT) index was 28.16 (± 5.82), and 50.8% of the elderly were edentulous. Among the individuals from the first wave, 10.4% were dependent in at least one of the activities of daily living. Future prospects of cohort: The data collection of second wave is in progress and it is expected that the extensive information collected will contribute to the planning of health actions for this population.