The Association between Malnutrition and Oral Health in Older People: A Systematic Review

Authors Yne Algra, Seline Kok, Faridi van Etten-Jamaludin, Liedeke van Schoot, Vanessa Hollaar, Elke Naumann, Marian de van der Schueren, Katarina Jerković-Ćosić, Liesbeth Haverkort
Published in Nutrients
Publication date 2021
Research groups Innovations in Preventive Care
Type Article


The aim of this systematic review was to examine the association between malnutrition and oral health in older people (≥ 60 years of age). A comprehensive systematic literature search was performed in four databases (PubMed, CINAHL, Dentistry and Oral Sciences Source, and Embase) for literature from January 2000 to May 2020. Both observational and intervention studies were screened for eligibility. Two reviewers independently screened the search results to identify potential eligible studies, and assessed the methodological quality of the full-text studies. A total of 3240 potential studies were identified. After judgement for relevance, 10 studies (cross-sectional (n = 9), prospective cohort (n = 1)) met the inclusion criteria. Three studies described malnourished participants as having fewer teeth, or functional (tooth) units (FTUs), compared to well-nourished participants. Four studies reported soft tissue problems in malnourished participants, including red tongue with blisters, and dry or cracked lips. Subjective oral health was the topic in six studies, with poorer oral health and negative self-perception of oral health in malnourished elderly participants. There are associations between (at risk of) malnutrition and oral health in older people, categorized in hard and soft tissue conditions of the mouth, and subjective oral health. Future research should be focused on longitudinal cohort studies with proper determination of malnutrition and oral health assessments, in order to evaluate the actual association between malnutrition and oral health in older people.

On this publication contributed

Language English
Published in Nutrients
Key words malnutrition, undernutrition, oral health, dental status, older people, elderly people, systematic review

Innovations in Preventive Care