The primary aim was to describe self-perceived oral health and function in a group of adults aged 75 to 84 years. The secondary aim was to study the agreement between self-reported oral function and clinical findings. A 5% sample (150 subjects) was selected at random from the total population (2,910) of 75 to 84-year-old residents in suburban Stockholm, Sweden. The inclusion criterion was that the individual lived independently, without any community assistance. A questionnaire covering self-perceived chewing ability, mouth dryness and bleeding gums was sent by mail. The total response rate was 86%. Of these 129 respondents, a 25.0% subsample was randomly selected for clinical examination by a dental hygienist. No radiographs were used. The average age of the individuals was 78.7 years (SD 2.71). Most were satisfied with their oral status and function: > 75.0% reported good chewing ability, correlating with the number of remaining teeth and dentures. Mouth dryness was reported by 41.5% of respondents to the questionnaire; one case was diagnosed in the subsample which underwent clinical examination. Bleeding gums were reported by 11.8% of respondents; clinical examination disclosed bleeding on probing in all participants. Mouth dryness and bleeding gums were not associated with chewing ability. Most subjects reported satisfactory chewing ability. Deterioration in oral function correlated with fewer remaining teeth and removable dentures. In relation to the clinical findings, mouth dryness was over-reported and bleeding gums were under-reported.
Keywords: elderly, oral health, oral function, chewing ability, mouth dryness, self-reported health