The association between social circumstances and oral health amongst older Chinese adults

Lead Research Organisation: University College London
Department Name: Epidemiology and Public Health


Oral diseases, including tooth decay and gum diseases, are the most common diseases globally, affecting 60% of the world's population. Oral diseases have significant negative impact on quality of life, incurring heavy costs to both the individual and society. As oral diseases are cumulative and chronic, they are ideal for investigating risk factors from a life course perspective.
Recently, oral health life course studies have provided useful insights into explaining social determinants of oral health, as well as causal pathways between social factors and oral health in some countries. However, this topic has been underexplored in low- and middle-income countries where major social and political transitions have occurred alongside broader oral health inequalities.
The world population is ageing rapidly with growing health-related needs, in particular in the world's most populous country, China. Thus, understanding oral health determinants among Chinese older adults is critical to promote healthy ageing and reduce the global burden of oral diseases.
This project aims to explore associations between social determinants and oral health outcomes across the life course among different birth cohorts of Chinese older adults by analysing the Chinese Longitudinal Healthy Longevity Survey (CLHLS). Inter-disciplinary methods (epidemiology, public health, demography, social epidemiology and statistics) will be employed to achieve the research aims. Firstly, the relationship between socioeconomic status across the life course and subsequent oral health will be examined. Secondly, social, political and behavioural factors that may affect oral health will also be investigated. Thirdly, the relationship between oral health status and longevity will be explored.
This study will be the first study to look at life course perspectives in oral health in China. The finding will uncover in detail the mechanisms and pathways between life circumstance and later oral health, and understand the relationship between oral health and healthy longevity. Additionally, considering the cumulative nature of oral diseases and that the majority of severe dental diseases occurs in older adulthood, this project will hopefully contribute towards promoting healthy ageing. The study will also identify how life course models apply to oral health outcomes in different birth cohorts in a rapidly ageing context. These will offer valuable evidence for policy-makers, local authorities and non- governmental organisations, to promulgate health policies and social policies in oral health promotion and diseases prevention. There would be associated benefits in terms of quality of life, wellbeing, healthy ageing and healthcare costs.


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Studentship Projects

Project Reference Relationship Related To Start End Student Name
ES/P000592/1 01/10/2017 30/09/2027
2059691 Studentship ES/P000592/1 25/09/2017 05/04/2022 Jialan Hong