The association between malnutrition and oral health status in elderly in long-term care facilities: A systematic review.
ABSTRACT OBJECTIVES: Malnutrition is a common problem in the elderly. It is not clear if oral health is associated to malnutrition in this population. The aim of this systematic review is to determine whether an association exists between oral health and malnutrition in the elderly in a long-term care facility. DESIGN: Systematic review. DATA SOURCE: Medline, Cochrane and Cinahl were systematically searched for to identify articles published between January 1985 and May 2011. Reference lists were checked for additional publications. REVIEW METHODS: Publications were included if they explored the association between oral health status and malnutrition. As no consensus about terminology was found, a sensitive filter was developed. The methodological quality of the studies was assessed. Two independent reviewers performed all methodological steps. RESULTS: Sixteen studies met the criteria for inclusion. Eleven studies used a multivariate approach; nine of these found an association between oral health status and malnutrition. Four studies found a relationship between masticatory problems and malnutrition. Five studies found an association between malnutrition and dental condition, number of oral problems, tongue alteration, problems with saliva flow, and candidiasis. Overall, the methodological quality of the studies was medium. CONCLUSIONS: Tentative evidence indicates an independent association between oral health status and malnutrition in the elderly residing in a long-term care facility. Caution is needed for the interpretation of these results because of the absence of a gold standard to define and assess malnutrition and oral health status and the presence of methodological limitations throughout the studies.