Objectives The number of teeth has frequently been used as an indicator of oral health in investigations of food intake; however, this measure does not represent the efficacy of the masticatory performance. Masticatory performance may be more important for food selection and avoidance than number of remaining teeth. The aim of this study was to investigate the association of occlusal force with habitual dietary intakes in independently living older Japanese. Methods The study population was 757 community-dwelling people aged 69-71 years old. Bilateral maximal occlusal force in the intercuspal position was measured with pressure-sensitive sheets. Removable denture wearers kept their dentures in place during the measurements. Dietary habits during the preceding month were assessed using a brief-type self-administered diet history questionnaire that measures consumption frequencies of selected food commonly consumed and calculates energy-adjusted dietary intakes. Linear trends of food and nutrient intakes with decreasing occlusal force were tested after adjusting for gender and socioeconomic factors. Results After adjusting for socioeconomic status and the number of remaining teeth, decline of occlusal force was significantly associated with lower intakes of vegetables, vitamins A, C, B6, folate, and dietary fibre (P for trend < 0.05). In contrast, number of teeth was significantly associated only with calcium and zinc, controlling for occlusal force. Conclusions It is concluded that occlusal force was significantly associated with intakes of vitamins and dietary fibre rather than number of remaining teeth in independently living older Japanese.
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