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Intra-oral findings and general health conditions among institutionalized and non-institutionalized elderly in Greece.

BACKGROUND: The aim of the study was to record the findings from intra-oral examination and the general health conditions encountered in a group of Greek individuals 65 years of age or older.

PATIENTS AND METHODS: The study subjects were derived from the elderly attending 12 randomly selected community centres located in Athens and neighbouring municipalities, consisting the non-institutionalized study group and from the elderly living in three ecclesiastical nursing homes, consisting the institutionalized study group. The research data comprised information from the subjects' interviews, self-defined health status, medical records and intra-oral examination on the following variables: sex, age, general health condition, dentate or not, use of dentures and oral conditions. Fisher's exact two-sided test was used for statistical analysis.

RESULTS: Overall, 316 patients were examined; 120 male (38%), 196 female (62%), mean age 78 years (range: 65-99). Of those, 150 were non-institutionalized (59 male, 91 female) and 166 institutionalized (61 male and 105 female). The vast majority (90%) of the patients had at least one general health problem, for which they were taking daily medication. Twenty-three different medical conditions were recorded. The most frequent medical problems were hypertension (56%), cardiovascular problems (41%), depression/anxiety (39%), arthritis (18.5%) and visual problems (16%). The vast majority of the study patients (79%) were edentulous, while 33% were not wearing or using their dentures. Almost half of them (47%) had at least one oral condition. Twenty-seven different oral conditions were recorded. The most frequent oral findings were denture-induced stomatitis (17.2%), dry mouth (14.6%), atrophy of tongue papillae (10.5%), fissured tongue (9.8%) and haemangioma (6.8%). No cases of malignant lesions were observed.

CONCLUSIONS: The present study confirms that in this particular age group, general health problems are frequent, variable, coexistent, necessitating the daily administration of multiple medications, while oral examination by a specialist is an essential part of the multidisciplinary medical care in this group of individuals.

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