Association between oral health and frailty: A systematic review of longitudinal studies

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OBJECTIVE: To systematically review longitudinal studies on the association between oral health and frailty indicated by any validated scale or index.

BACKGROUND: Frailty and poor oral health are common among ageing populations; however, evidence from longitudinal studies is scarce.

METHODS: Three databases (MEDLINE, EMBASE and LILACS) were searched for published literature up to July 2018 using prespecified search strategy. Grey literature was searched using OpenGrey and Google Scholar. Quality of included studies was checked using the Newcastle-Ottawa Quality Assessment Scale (NOS) for longitudinal studies.

RESULTS: Five longitudinal studies from three countries (Mexico, Japan, and UK) that examined the association between oral health and frailty were identified. All studies used Fried's frailty phenotype criteria for measuring frailty. Oral health indicators were number of teeth, periodontal disease, oral functions (functional dentition with occluding pairs and maximum bite force), use of removable dentures, accumulation of oral health problems and dry mouth symptoms. The studies showed significant association of number of teeth (two studies), oral functions (two studies), accumulation of oral health problems and number of dry mouth symptoms with frailty incidence, whereas periodontal disease showed inconsistent associations.

CONCLUSION: This systematic review identified significant longitudinal associations between oral health indicators and frailty that highlight the importance of oral health as a predictor of frailty in older age. There is a need for further research exploring the role of nutrition as a mediator of the relationship between oral health and frailty.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)205-215
Number of pages11
Issue number3
Early online date26 Apr 2019
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 26 Apr 2019


  • frailty
  • longitudinal studies
  • older adults
  • oral health
  • systematic review


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