Dental Self-Care Habits and Self-Reported Caries Amongst the Elderly in South-Western Kenya

Author(s): Walter Ogutu Amulla, Jackie Kpeinzeh Obey, Dorothy Onjwa Onyango

Background: Dental diseases continue to plague elderly populations worldwide with multiple effects on health, nutrition and wellbeing. Nevertheless, little is known concerning geriatric oral hygiene behavior and its association with dental caries in rural Kenya. This knowledge could be instrumental in shaping geriatric oral health interventions.

Aims: To explore relationship between dental self-care habits and self-reported caries amongst the elderly in south-western Kenya.

Methods: A cross-sectional analytical study was done among a random sample of 300 elderly persons in southwestern Kenya. Data pertaining to caries prevalence, sociodemographic characteristics as well as dental self-care habits was gathered through structured questionnaires and analyzed on SPSS v.25. Association between variables was explored using Pearson’s chi-square test and multiple logistic regression.

Results: Prevalence of self-reported caries was 52.3%. The distribution of caries differed significantly across categories of respondents’ location (X2 = 48.90, P<.001), educational levels (X2 =8.95, P= .030), employment status (X2 =5.49, P= .019) and self-rated economic status (X2 =4.52, P= .034). Brushing frequency (OR=5.15), use of toothpaste (OR=4.80), dental visit (OR=5.91), and believing tooth decay is inevitable (OR=2.42) were the leading covariates of self-reported caries.

Conclusion: Caries prevalence was high among geriatric population in southwestern Kenya. Brushing frequency, aids, dentifrice, literacy and attitudes were associated with dental caries. Geriatric dental self-care habits were largely shaped by their caries experience. Targeted interventions to mitigate discrepancies in oral hygiene behavior is recommended.

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