OBJECTIVES: The aim of this study was to assess the association between different life-course socioeconomic positions (SEPs) and periodontitis in a large representative sample of the Korean population.
METHODS: With data from Korean adults aged 30-59, periodontitis was assessed with the community periodontal index. Parental education, own education, and income as indicators of early childhood SEP, adolescence SEP, and adulthood SEP, respectively, were categorized by four groups (1-4). The association between the different life-course SEPs and periodontitis was estimated according to three different life-course models: individual impact of the three SEPs, cumulative impact by the sum of the three SEP values (sum ranges 3-12), and the pathways of the three SEPs through lifetime to the periodontitis. Covariates were demographic factors, health behaviors, and health problems. The prevalence ratios (PRs) and relative index of inequality (RII) for periodontitis were obtained.
RESULTS: In an individual impact model, significant associations of each SEP with periodontitis were found after adjusting for all covariates (RII = 1.16 for parental education, 1.19 for own education, and 1.27 for income). For a cumulative impact model, there were higher risks for periodontitis as the sum of the three SEP values increased (RII = 1.51). For the intergenerational social mobility model, prevalence of current periodontal disease was highest in the persistently low group. (RII = 1.54 and PR = 1.51).
CONCLUSIONS: These results show that the individual and cumulative SEPs measured by the parental education, own education, and income were independently associated with the periodontal status of Korean adults. The pathway and cumulative hypotheses for the life-course SEP effects on periodontitis could be salient in oral epidemiology.