OBJECTIVE : To determine the association between oral health and socioeconomic status with subjective psychological well-being.
METHODS : An interviewer-administered questionnaire was conducted during 2011 on a nationally representative sample of South African adults >16 years (n=2,971) who reported on socio-demographic data, past dental visit patterns, number of remaining teeth and oral and general health status. Subjective well-being was computed as the sum of scores obtained from participants' estimates of level of happiness (scale 0-6) and rating of level of satisfaction with life (scale 0-4). Analyses included t-tests and multivariable-adjusted Poisson regression.
RESULTS : The average score on a scale of 0-10 for subjective well-being was 6.31 (95%CI=6.17-6.44), which decreased with age, but increased with level of education and frequency of dental visits. Even after controlling for socioeconomic status, those who rated their oral health as good were more likely to report a higher subjective well-being (Prevalence Rate ratio (PRR) =1.14; 95% CI=1.03-1.27). Those who reported visiting a dentist at least every 6 months reported higher subjective well-being (PRR=1.10; 1.04-1.16.
CONCLUSIONS : Good oral health is independently associated with greater subjective well-being. This highlights the need to prioritise oral health promotion as an integral part of promoting general health and improving the quality of life of South Africans.