Purpose: To compare toothbrushing habits, unstimulated salivary flow rates and oral health status of elderly Hong Kong Chinese with and without dementia.
Materials and Methods: A sample size calculation was performed and a sample of 82 elderly Chinese with dementia were invited who were aged 60 or above, fit for periodontal assessment with probing and attended day-care centres. Age- and gender-matched generally healthy people without dementia were recruited as controls. Toothbrushing practices were recorded using a questionnaire. Additionally, unstimulated salivary flow rate was measured. Caries experience and periodontal status were assessed through clinical examination by the DMFT index and Community Periodontal Index (CPI), respectively.
Results: Fifty-nine people with dementia and 59 age- and gender-matched generally healthy controls were recruited. Their mean age was 80 (SD = 7). Compared with the individuals in the control group, fewer people with dementia performed toothbrushing twice daily (31% vs 5%; P < 0.001). Furthermore, their unstimulated salivary flow rate was lower than that of the control group (0.30 ml/min vs 0.41 ml/min; P = 0.043). Their caries experience in mean DMFT (±SD) was similar to the control group (22.3 ± 8.2 vs 21.5 ± 8.2, P = 0.59). There was also no significant difference in the prevalence of periodontal pockets (CPI ≥3) between the two groups (78% vs 74%, P = 0.64).
Conclusion: Compared to those without dementia, fewer elderly Chinese with dementia practiced toothbrushing twice daily. Although their resting salivary secretion was reduced, their caries experience and prevalence of advanced periodontal disease were not significantly different from those without dementia.
Keywords: caries, Chinese, dementia, elderly, oral health status, oral hygiene, periodontal, plaque, salivary flow rate