Does the condition of the mouth and teeth affect the ability to eat certain foods, nutrient and dietary intake and nutritional status amongst older people?

Public Health Nutr. 2001 Jun;4(3):797-803. doi: 10.1079/phn2000116.


Objectives: To assess how the dental status of older people affected their stated ability to eat common foods, their nutrient intake and some nutrition-related blood analytes.

Design: Cross-sectional survey part of nation-wide British National Diet and Nutrition Survey: people aged 65 years and older. Data from a questionnaire were linked to clinical data and data from four-day weighed dietary records. Two separate representative samples: a free-living and an institutional sample. Seven-hundred-and-fifty-three free-living and 196 institution subjects had a dental exam and interview.

Results: About one in five dentate (with natural teeth) free-living people had difficulty eating raw carrots, apples, well-done steak or nuts. Foods such as nuts, apples and raw carrots could not be eaten easily by over half edentate (without natural teeth but with dentures) people in institutions. In free-living, intakes of most nutrients and fruit and vegetables were significantly lower in edentate than dentate. Perceived chewing ability increased with increasing number of teeth. Daily intake of non-starch polysaccharides, protein, calcium, non-haem iron, niacin, vitamin C and intrinsic and milk sugars were significantly lower in edentate. Plasma ascorbate and retinol were significantly lower in the edentate than dentate. Plasma ascorbate was significantly related to the number of teeth and posterior contacting pairs of teeth.

Conclusions: The presence, number and distribution of natural teeth are related to the ability to eat certain foods, affecting nutrient intakes and two biochemical measures of nutritional status.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aging / physiology*
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Dental Health Surveys
  • Dentures / adverse effects*
  • Diet Surveys
  • Eating*
  • Energy Intake
  • Female
  • Geriatric Assessment
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mastication
  • Mouth
  • Nursing Homes
  • Nutritional Status*
  • Oral Health*
  • Tooth / physiology
  • United Kingdom