Objective: To examine if self-reported number of teeth, denture use and chewing ability are associated with incident falls. Design: Longitudinal cohort study (the Aichi Gerontological Evaluation Study). Setting: 5 Japanese municipalities. Participants: 1763 community-dwelling individuals aged 65 years and older without experience of falls within the previous year at baseline. Main outcome measures: Self-reported history of multiple falls during the past year at the follow-up survey about 3 years later. Baseline data on the number of teeth present and/or denture use and chewing ability were collected using self-administered questionnaires. Logistic regression analyses controlled for sex, age, functional disability during follow-up period, depression, self-rated health and educational attainment. Results: 86 (4.9%) subjects reported falls at the follow-up survey. Logistic regression models fully adjusted for all covariates showed that subjects having 19 or fewer teeth but not using dentures had a significantly increased risk for incident falls (OR 2.50, 95% CI 1.21 to 5.17, p=0.013) compared with those having 20 or more teeth. Among subjects with 19 or fewer teeth, their risk of falls was not significantly elevated so long as they wore dentures (OR 1.36, 95% CI 0.76 to 2.45, p=0.299). No significant association was observed between chewing ability and incident falls in the fully adjusted model. Conclusions: Having 19 or fewer teeth but not using dentures was associated with higher risk for the incident falls in older Japanese even after adjustment for multiple covariates. Dental care to prevent tooth loss and denture treatment for older people might prevent falls, although the authors cannot exclude the possibility that the association is due to residual confounding.
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