There have been numerous studies of oral health status of school children and young population; however, similar studies in elderly population in India are lacking. With advances in medical science and consequent increase in life expectancy, elderly population is on the rise and is a subject of growing concern for public health policy. Hence, an attempt was made to study factors influencing decayed, missing, and filled teeth (DMFT) index, oral health awareness, and dental treatment-seeking behavior of elderly population.
A cross-sectional community-based survey was conducted between September 2014 and December 2014 in villages in rural Maharashtra. Sociodemographic and health-related information were collected from 352 participants 60 years of age and above in 10 villages.
Prevalence of dental caries was 76.4% in a study population with median DMFT score of 12 with interquartile range of 7-22. The majority of the participants cleaned their teeth with fingers using charcoal and mishri. Only 17.2% participants used toothbrush. About 39% participants had experienced dental pain, of which majority did not visit dentist. The median DMFT index who used toothbrush and toothpaste was significantly less when compared with participants who did not use tooth brush and tooth paste. The majority of the participants had one or more missing teeth, but only 2.2% were using dentures.
There is an urgent need for comprehensive oral health educational programs, and accessible and affordable oral health services to be provided to rural community.