Nutrition as a mediator in the relation between oral and systemic disease: associations between specific measures of adult oral health and nutrition outcomes

Crit Rev Oral Biol Med. 2002;13(3):291-300. doi: 10.1177/154411130201300306.


Recent associations between oral health and systemic disease have led to renewed interest in the mouth and its contribution to health outcomes. Many pathways for this relationship have been postulated, among them the potential mediating role of nutrition. The link between various nutrients and systemic disease has been established, but relatively little work has been done in relating oral conditions with nutrition. We searched MEDLINE, from 1966 to July, 2001, to identify articles relating specific oral measures to nutrition outcomes. We included original articles written in English with a sample size greater than 30 that used objective oral health measures. We reviewed a total of 56 articles. Only a small proportion of these studies were methodologically sound. Although many studies were small and cross-sectional, the literature suggests that tooth loss affects dietary quality and nutrient intake in a manner that may increase the risk for several systemic diseases. The impact of tooth loss on diet may be only partially compensated for by prostheses. To date, there is little information relating periodontal disease and oral pain and nutrition. A few studies suggest poorer nutrition among individuals with xerostomia and altered taste. Further, impaired dentition may contribute to weight change, depending on age and other population characteristics. There is a paucity of well-designed studies addressing oral health and nutrition. Before we can acquire a better understanding of how nutrition and oral health interrelate, however, more studies will be required to confirm these associations-preferably longitudinal studies with larger sample sizes and better control of important confounders.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Body Mass Index
  • Body Weight
  • Confounding Factors, Epidemiologic
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Dental Prosthesis
  • Diet
  • Disease*
  • Eating / physiology
  • Facial Pain / physiopathology
  • Humans
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Mouth Diseases / physiopathology*
  • Nutritional Physiological Phenomena* / physiology
  • Nutritional Status
  • Oral Health
  • Periodontal Diseases / physiopathology
  • Research Design
  • Risk Factors
  • Sample Size
  • Taste Disorders / physiopathology
  • Tooth Diseases / physiopathology
  • Tooth Loss / physiopathology
  • Xerostomia / physiopathology