Objective: The aim of this study was to clarify whether perceived swallowing problems affect the life expectancy of very elderly individuals. Background: In an ageing society, oral function affects health status. In particular, a decline in swallowing function may increase the risk of various diseases, morbidity and malnutrition. Materials and Methods: We evaluated 526 elderly individuals aged ≥85 years. All participants completed a questionnaire and underwent oral, physical and mental health examinations. The comprehensive oral health assessment comprised a face-to-face interview that included a questionnaire on swallowing function. We estimated hazard ratios and 95% confidence intervals using the Cox proportional hazards model, adjusting for potential confounders between perceived swallowing problems and all-cause mortality over a 3-year period. Results: Over a 3-year follow-up period, 88 of 526 participants died and 68 participants complained of perceived swallowing problems. Perceived swallowing problems had statistically significant associations with physical status and function and nutrition. In the univariate analysis, perceived swallowing problems had statistically significant associations with an approximately 1.9-fold higher risk of all-cause mortality during the 3-year period (HR: 1.89, 95% CI: 1.14-3.14). In the multivariate analysis, the statistically significant association between perceived swallowing problems and all-cause mortality remained after adjusting for various confounding factors (HR: 1.73, 95% CI: 1.03-2.92). Conclusion: Perceived swallowing disorders should be verified by a clinical examination, as they are associated with other health outcomes and increased all-cause mortality.
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