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Mech Ageing Dev. 2004 Dec;125(12):853-7.

The relationship between oral health and nutrition in older people.

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The School of Dental Sciences, Framlington Place, Newcastle upon Tyne NE2 4BW, UK.


The oral health of older people is changing with reducing numbers of people relying on complete dentures for function, and retaining some natural teeth. Despite this there are substantial numbers of older people whose ability to chew foods is compromised by their oral health status, either because they have few or no natural teeth. This alteration results in individuals selecting a diet that they can chew in comfort. Such diets are low in fruits and vegetables intake with associated reduction in both non-starch polysaccharide and micronutrient intakes. There is also a trend for reduced dietary intake overall. Salivary flow and function may have an impact in relation to the ability to chew and swallow. Whilst there are few differences in salivary function in fit healthy unmedicated subjects, disease resulting in reduced salivary flow and particularly polypharmacy, with xerostomia as a side effect, are likely to have a role in older people. This paper explores the relationships between oral health status and food's choice and discusses the potential consequences for the individual of such dietary change.

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