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The relationship between the number of natural teeth and airflow obstruction: a cross-sectional study using data from the Korean National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey

Authors Kim SW, Han K, Kim SY, Park CK, Chin Kook Rhee CK, Yoon HK

Received 14 August 2015

Accepted for publication 19 November 2015

Published 21 December 2015 Volume 2016:11(1) Pages 13—21

DOI https://doi.org/10.2147/COPD.S94419

Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single-blind

Peer reviewers approved by Professor Hsiao-Chi Chuang

Peer reviewer comments 4

Editor who approved publication: Dr Richard Russell


Sei Won Kim,1 Kyungdo Han,2 Shin Young Kim,3 Chan Kwon Park,3 Chin Kook Rhee,1 Hyoung Kyu Yoon3

1Department of Internal Medicine, Seoul St Mary’s Hospital, College of Medicine, The Catholic University of Korea, Seoul, Republic of Korea, 2Department of Medical Statistics, College of Medicine, The Catholic University of Korea, Seoul, Republic of Korea, 3Department of Internal Medicine, Yeouido St Mary’s Hospital, College of Medicine, The Catholic University of Korea, Seoul, Republic of Korea

Background: Potential associations between oral health and respiratory disease, including chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), have been suggested in several studies. Among the indicators reflecting oral health, the number of natural teeth is an integrated and simple index to assess in the clinic. In this study, we examined the relationship between the number of natural teeth and airflow obstruction, which is a central feature of COPD.
Methods: A total of 3,089 participants over 40 years, who underwent reliable spirometry and oral health assessments were selected from the Korean National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey 2012, a cross-sectional and nationally representative survey. Spirometry results were classified as normal, restrictive, or obstructive pattern. Total number and pairs of natural teeth were counted after excluding third molars.
Results: After adjusting for other variables, such as age, body mass index, socioeconomic factors, and oral health factors, the group with airflow obstruction showed significantly fewer natural teeth than the other groups in males (P=0.014 and 0.008 for total number and total pairs of natural teeth, respectively). Compared with participants with full dentition, the adjusted odds ratio for airflow obstruction in males with fewer than 20 natural teeth was 4.18 (95% confidence interval: 2.06–8.49) and with fewer than 10 pairs of natural teeth was 4.74 (95% confidence interval: 2.34–9.62). However, there was no significant association between the total number or pairs of natural teeth and airflow obstruction after adjustment in females.
Conclusions: Loss of natural teeth was significantly associated with the presence of airflow obstruction in males. Our finding suggests that the number of natural teeth could be one of the available indices for obstructive lung diseases, including COPD.

Keywords: tooth loss, oral health, airflow obstruction, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease

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