Blackwell Publishing Journal Backfiles 1879-2005
Abstract– Objectives: The dental health of Finnish children and young adults has improved considerably during the last 25 years. At the same time, there are still middle-aged or elderly individuals who have lost some or all of their teeth, since extractions were commonly used as a treatment for dental infections during earlier decades. The aim of the present study was to analyze changes of the prevalence of and risk indicators for edentulism among Finnish adults of working age (15–64 years) from 1978 to 1997. Methods: The National Public Health Institute has, since 1978, conducted annual surveys concerning health behavior among the Finnish adult population. The data were collected through a mailed questionnaire including questions on the number of missing teeth. Sample sizes varied from 5000 to 6000 and the response rates from 70% to 85%. Results: The dental status profile of the Finnish adult population has changed considerably since 1978. The prevalence of edentulism decreased from 14% to 6% during the study years. At the same time, the number of persons with complete dentition increased from 60% to 80%. The decrease in edentulism was obvious in both sexes, but the change was more remarkable among women. In 1997, the difference between the sexes had almost disappeared. The differences between regional and educational groups were still marked in 1997. Belonging to a certain birth cohort appeared to be the major factor affecting the percentage of edentulous subjects. In 1978 risk indicators of total tooth loss included age, gender, length of education, geographical area, urbanization, marital status, and medication for headache. In 1997 risk indicators included age, length of education, geographical area, history of smoking, and perceived status of health. Conclusions: The number of totally edentulous working-age persons is rapidly decreasing in Finland. Edentulism was strongly associated with birth cohorts and is apparently accumulating in a diminishing group of people. Relevant factors that were strongly associated with edentulousness did not vary considerably between the study years.
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