The promotion of a healthy lifestyle has become an issue of public health importance in the context of ageing populations and increasing prevalence of chronic diseases.
(i) To estimate changes in use of fluoridated tooth paste, use of tooth picks, smoking and alcohol consumption and (ii) to examine whether experience with incident or prevalent tooth loss predict healthy lifestyle transitions from age 50 to 70.
In 1992, 6346 individuals born in 1942 agreed to participate in a prospective cohort study and 3585 completed follow-up questionnaires in 1997, 2002, 2007 and 2012. Statistical analyses were conducted by chi-square statistics, Cochran’s Q and logistic regression.
In total, 15.7% and 74.0% reported incident (tooth loss only in 2012) and prevalent tooth loss (tooth loss in 1992 and 2012). Significant differences occurred between the 1992 and 2012 prevalence of using toothpicks (from 48.3% to 69.1%), smoking (from 26.9% to 10.1%) and alcohol consumption (from 41.5% to 50.5%), 29% and 15.6% increased use of toothpicks and alcohol consumption, whereas 15.5% stopped daily smoking. Increased use of fluoridated tooth paste, smoking cessation and failure to increase use of toothpicks was associated with prevalent tooth loss between age 50 and 70.
This study revealed positive and negative trends in oral health behaviours over a 20-year period in persons aged 50 at baseline. Mixed support was obtained for the assumption that oral health promoting lifestyle transitions follow experience with tooth loss. Older people with tooth loss experience could benefit from targeted counselling aimed at coping with oral diseases.