We sought to examine social network diversity as a potential determinant of oral health, considering size and contact frequency of the social network and oral health behaviors.
Our cross-sectional study was based on data from the 2010 Japan Gerontological Evaluation Study. Data from 19,756 community-dwelling individuals aged 65 years or older were analyzed. We inquired about diversity of friendships based on seven types of friends. Ordered logistic regression models were developed to determine the association between the diversity of social networks and number of teeth (categorized as ≥20, 10–19, 1–9, and 0).
Of the participants, 54.1% were women (mean age, 73.9 years; standard deviation, 6.2). The proportion of respondents with ≥20 teeth was 34.1%. After adjusting for age, sex, socioeconomic status (income, education, and occupation), marital status, health status (diabetes and mental health), and size and contact frequency of the social network, an increase in the diversity of social networks was significantly associated with having more teeth (odds ratio = 1.08; 95% confidence interval, 1.04–1.11). Even adjusted for oral health behaviors (smoking, curative/preventive dental care access, use of dental floss/fluoride toothpaste), significant association was still observed (odds ratio = 1.05 (95% confidence interval, 1.02–1.08)).