Geriatric oral health and its impact on eating

J Am Geriatr Soc. 1996 Apr;44(4):456-64. doi: 10.1111/j.1532-5415.1996.tb06419.x.


Objective: Adequate food and fluid intake and nutritional health are requisites for sustaining life. The oral-pharyngeal region has evolved multiple, highly regulated processes to ensure that the intake, chewing, and swallowing of foods and beverages is maintained. The objective of this paper is to identify the independent and collective roles of oral health on eating in older people.

Design: Research reports from peer-reviewed scientific journals. Hypothesis-driven research that objectively examined taste, smell, dental and oral mucosal health, dental prostheses, chewing, and swallowing in the context of aging.

Data extraction and synthesis: Data results were extracted independently by multiple observers. A qualitative synthesis of data results from independent studies was made in order to form conclusions regarding the role of oral health on eating in older people.

Conclusions: Many oral functions remain intact in healthy older adults. However, significant alterations arise from oral and systemic diseases and their treatments, and these may have a profound effect on eating, drinking, and the nutritional status of older individuals. The care of older persons with smell, taste, dental/alveolar, oral mucosal, chewing, and swallowing problems requires a multidisciplinary team of health care providers. Recognition of the interrelationship between oral, pharyngeal, and systemic physiological processes will help practitioners identify the etiology of these disorders and implement appropriate therapy.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Aging*
  • Deglutition
  • Deglutition Disorders / etiology
  • Eating*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mastication
  • Oral Health*
  • Sensation Disorders / etiology
  • Smell
  • Taste Disorders / etiology