The journal of nutrition, health & aging

, Volume 22, Issue 2, pp 254–261 | Cite as

Oral health indicators for risk of malnutrition in elders

  • L. L. Wu
  • K. Y. Cheung
  • P. Y. P. Lam
  • Xiaoli Gao



Using both clinical parameters and subjective measures of oral health, this study aimed to identify useful oral health indicators for the risk of malnutrition in elders.


Cross-sectional study.


Five community centers run by non-government organizations (NGOs).


195 community dwelling elders (65 or above).


An interviewer-administered questionnaire was completed to collect information on elders’ socio-demographic background and oral health perception and practice. Their number of teeth, number of occluding tooth pairs, dental caries, and periodontal condition were examined. General Oral Health Assessment Index (GOHAI), an instrument for assessing oral health related quality of life (OHQoL), was used as a subjective measure of oral health. The elders’ nutritional status was evaluated by using the Mini-Nutritional Assessment (MNA).


The mean (SD) DFT was 3.3 (3.1). Over 60% of elders had periodontal pockets; 33% had fewer than 20 teeth and 6% were edentulous. The mean (SD) of occluding tooth pairs was 7.1 (4.8). The mean (SD) total GOHAI score was 56.4 (8.0); 60% reported negative impact of oral health on their quality of life. The mean (SD) MNA score was 25.0 (2.9); 30% had malnutrition or were at risk. After controlling for socio-demographic factors, none of the clinical indicators (dental caries, periodontal status, number of teeth, and number of occluding tooth pairs) were associated with risk of malnutrition (all p>0.05). Poorer OHQoL indicated a higher chance for malnutrition in both adjusted models (OR of 0.914; 95% CI of 0.850-0.982; p=0.014 and OR of 0.915; 95% CI of 0.852-0.984; p=0.017). Tooth loss and untreated decayed teeth (DT) were significant/marginally significant determinants of poor OHQoL.


Elders’ tooth loss and unmet treatment need for dental caries were associated with compromised quality of life, which indicated increased likelihood for malnutrition..


Nutrition elderly oral health indicators oral health related quality of life Mini-Nutritional Assessment 


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Copyright information

© Serdi and Springer-Verlag France 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • L. L. Wu
    • 1
  • K. Y. Cheung
    • 1
  • P. Y. P. Lam
    • 1
  • Xiaoli Gao
    • 1
  1. 1.Dental Public health, Faculty of DentistryThe University of Hong KongSai Ying PunHong Kong

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