June 2021

Volume 38, Issue 2

Associations between oral health and general health: a surveywide association study of the NHANES

Authors: Rachel H. Strait Suzanne Barnes Derek K. Smith
doi: 10.1922/CDH_00121Strait06

Abstract

Objective: This proof of concept study uses data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) to explore potential associations between oral and systemic health in a survey-wide association study (SWAS). Basic research design: Data from n=9,971 records in the 2015-2016 NHANES survey were used to evaluate associations between self-rated oral health and the various systemic health conditions that are included in the survey. Associations were estimated using survey-weighted linear regression models adjusted for age, sex, race, and smoking status. Results: Substantial associations with self-rated oral health were evident after correction for multiple comparisons. The study revealed associations in categories of mental health, cardiovascular disease, and diabetes adding to the body of evidence. The study also suggested associations with physical functioning, vision, hearing, genitourinary symptoms, and the prevalence of hepatitis. Conclusions: The SWAS method demonstrated the ability to identify associations between oral health and systemic health. Suggested associations should be investigated further investigated with emphasis on both biologic and societal mechanisms. The noteworthy associations with mental health, physical activity, and cardiovascular disease in this study inform clinicians from each of these disciplines that they may benefit from collaborations with oral health care providers to promote whole-person health. Keywords: NHANES; SWAS; oral health; general health; mental health

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