Analysts at Gallup Inc. have come up with support for an important long-term care (LTC) planning principle: People with good teeth, and good gums, tend to need less LTC.
Older Americans who do end up needing LTC tend to need less medical care when they enter that stage of life with good oral health.
Gallup, Princeton, N.J.. has published data on the link between oral health and overall health later in life in a report by Elizabeth Mendes and Kyley McGeeney. The analysts based on the report on results from Gallup surveys of 150,984 adults ages 65 and older who live in the 50 U.S. states or the District of Columbia.
The analysts looked at how answers to questions about various wellness factors affected whether the participants identified themselves as being in excellent or very good health, or as being in good, fair or poor health.
When Gallup asked seniors about smoking, for example, it found that whether seniors reported smoking had only a modest effect on whether they said they were in excellent or very good health: 43% of the nonsmokers and 35% of the smokers said they were in excellent or very good health, for a gap of 8 percentage points.
The gap was 10 percentage points for participants who “ate healthy all day yesterday,” and 15 percentage points for participants said they were “not obese.”
The only bigger gaps — 17 percentage points each — were for exercise and for visiting the dentist.
About 51% of the seniors who said they exercised 3 or more times per week reported being in excellent or very good health, compared with 34% of the nonexercisers.