Oral health and regular dental care are critical to overall health. Research has found associations between oral health and infections, respiratory disease, and poor quality of life in the general population. While risks for all are increased in people with spinal cord injury (SCI), there is limited information on dental care after SCI.
The purpose of this analysis was to examine factors associated with regular dental care in people with SCI.
We analyzed data from 348 individuals with traumatic and nontraumatic SCI who were enrolled in the Fracture Risk after SCI (FRASCI) study. The dataset included two variables on dental care, as well as demographics, injury-related characteristics, and secondary conditions. Bivariate relationships were determined using two-sided t tests and chi-square tests.
Over 60% of the sample received regular dental care twice per year, and 71% reported seeing a dentist within the past year. Those participants receiving regular dental care twice a year were more likely to be female, be working, have more than a high school diploma, have private insurance, and need a caregiver compared to those who do not receive regular dental care. In addition, these participants were more likely to have had pneumonia since their SCI and have had a urinary tract infection in the past year and since injury.
More data on oral health are needed to make conclusions about the impact of oral health on secondary conditions and quality of life in people with SCI.