Background: A growing number of epidemiology studies have shown that poor oral health is associated with an increased incidence of functional disability. However, there are few studies in which the confounding bias is adjusted appropriately. In this study, we examined whether dental status is associated with functional disability in elderly Japanese using a 13-year prospective cohort study after elimination of confounding factors with propensity score matching. Methods: Participants were community-dwelling Japanese aged 70 years or older who lived in the Tsurugaya district of Sendai (n = 838). The number of remaining teeth (over 20 teeth vs 0–19 teeth) was defined as the exposure variable. The outcome was the incidence of functional disability, defined as the first certification of long-term care insurance (LTCI) in Japan. The variables that were used to determine propensity score matching were age, sex, body mass index (BMI), medical history (stroke, hypertension, myocardial infarction, cancer, and diabetes), smoking, alcohol consumption, educational attainment, depression symptoms, cognitive impairment, physical function, social support, and marital status. Results: As a result of the propensity score matching, 574 participants were selected. Participants with 0–19 teeth were more likely to develop functional disability than those with 20 or more teeth (hazard ratio 1.33; 95% confidence interval, 1.01–1.75). Conclusions: In this prospective cohort study targeting community-dwelling older adults in Japan, having less than 20 teeth was confirmed to be an independent risk factor for functional disability even after conducting propensity score matching. This study supports previous publications showing that oral health is associated with functional disability.
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