Relationship between oral health and nutritional status in the elderly: A pilot study in Lebanon

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Background/objective Oral health is an integral part of the general health and well-being of the elderly. Compromised oral health can have a negative impact on food intake that leads to a deterioration in nutritional status. This study aimed to explore, for the first time in Lebanon, the relationship between oral health and nutritional status in a population of elderly patients newly admitted to a hospital. Methods A comprehensive survey was administered to 115 persons aged 70 years and older. They were admitted during 3 consecutive months to various wards of the Rafic Hariri University Hospital (RHUH; Beirut, Lebanon), which is the largest public hospital in Lebanon. Medical, socioeconomic, anthropometric, and dietary data were collected. Nutritional status was assessed by the Mini-Nutritional Assessment (MNA) and oral health was assessed by the Geriatric Oral Health Assessment Index (GOHAI), a tool that evaluates an individual's self-perception of oral health status. This was followed by an examination of the oral cavity to count the remaining teeth, to record the presence and status of dentures, and to assess xerostomia. Results The prevalence of undernutrition was 6.1%, with the additional risk of malnutrition observed in 37.4%. More than 50% of individuals in need of dental care (i.e., a GOHAI score > 14) were at risk of nutritional deficits. A negative self-perception of oral status was significantly associated with a risk of nutritional deficit, but the risk disappeared after adjusting for socioeconomic factors, neurosensory disorders, and chronic diseases. Conclusion Our results strongly demonstrate the importance of oral care within the elderly Lebanese population to reduce the risk of malnutrition and improve oral health-related quality of life. © 2014, Asia Pacific League of Clinical Gerontology and Geriatrics. Published by Elsevier Taiwan.




El Hélou, M., Boulos, C., Adib, S. M., & Tabbal, N. (2014). Relationship between oral health and nutritional status in the elderly: A pilot study in Lebanon. Journal of Clinical Gerontology and Geriatrics, 5(3), 91–95.

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