The total number of natural teeth was related to swallowing function among older adults; however, limited information is available regarding the impact of occluding pairs of teeth on swallowing function. This study aimed to examine the association between posterior teeth occlusion and dysphagia risk in older nursing home residents. This cross-sectional study included 238 residents aged ≥60 years from eight nursing homes in Aso City, Japan. Swallowing function was evaluated using the modified water swallowing test (MWST); the primary outcome was dysphagia risk (MWST score ≤3). Posterior teeth occlusion was assessed using number of functional tooth units (FTUs), determined based on number and location of the remaining natural and artificial teeth on implant-supported, fixed or removable prostheses. Univariate and multivariate logistic regression analyses were performed to examine the association between posterior teeth occlusion and dysphagia risk, adjusted for the covariates of number of natural teeth, demographic characteristics, comorbidities, physical function, body mass index and cognitive function. Of the 238 subjects, 44 (18·5%) were determined to be at risk of dysphagia based on the MWST scores. The odds ratio (OR) of dysphagia risk decreased in subjects with higher total FTUs [OR = 0·92, 95% confidence interval (CI) 0·87–0·98]. After adjusting for covariates, this association remained significant (OR = 0·90, 95% CI 0·84–0·97). Loss of posterior teeth occlusion was independently associated with dysphagia risk in older nursing home residents. Maintaining and restoring posterior teeth occlusion may be an effective measure to prevent dysphagia.
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