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Falls may cause serious health conditions among older population. Fall-related physical factors are thought to be associated with occlusal conditions. However, few studies examined the relationship between occlusal force and falls. To identify the association between occlusal force and falls among community-dwelling elderly individuals in Japan, public health nurses conducted a cross-sectional descriptive study.
We performed extensive physical assessments of five items: maximum occlusal force, handgrip strength, maximal knee extensor strength, one-leg standing time with eyes open and body sway. We also conducted a questionnaire survey concerning the participants’ demographic characteristics, health status and fall experience during the past year. Mean scores and standard deviations were calculated for age and the total points of the index of activities of daily living. Associations were examined using Mann-Whitney tests and logistic regression.
We examined 159 community-dwelling people aged ≥65 years, who were independent and active, including 38 participants (24.5%) with experience of falls in the past year. Maximum occlusal force had significant correlation with handgrip strength, maximal knee extensor strength, and one-leg standing time and body sway (P < .05, respectively). We found weak associations between participants with and without a history of falls in terms of the five physical measurements. Logistic regression analysis showed that fall experience was significantly associated with maximum occlusal force (P = 0.004).
This is the first study, led by public health nursing researchers, to examine the associations between maximum occlusal force and falls among community-dwelling elderly in Japan. The results showed that maximum occlusal force was significantly related to the other four extensive physical assessments, and might also suggest that maximum occlusal force assessment by public health nurses could contribute to more sophisticated and precise prediction of fall risks among the community-dwelling elderly. The latest occlusal force measurement device is non-invasive and easy to use. Public health nurses can introduce it at periodical community health checkup assembly events, which might contribute to raising awareness among community-dwelling elderly individuals and public health nurses about fall prevention and prediction.