Tooth loss can indicate malnutrition, study finds

Older adults are at risk for both impaired oral health and malnutrition, according to a study by Rutgers University researchers.

The study, recently published in the Journal of Aging Research and Clinical Practice, analyzed the health records of 107 community-dwelling senior citizens treated at the Rutgers School of Dental Medicine clinic between 2015 to 2016.

The results showed that more than 25 percent of the patients had malnutrition or were at risk for malnutrition. The researchers saw a trend in which patients with 10 to 19 teeth were more likely to be at risk for malnutrition. Those patients classified as having malnutrition had higher rates of weight loss, ate less and more frequently reported that they suffered with dementia and/or depression and severe illnesses than those who had a normal nutrition status.

“The mouth is the entry way for food and fluid intake,” said lead author Rena Zelig, director of the Master of Science in Clinical Nutrition Program at Rutgers School of Health Professions. “If its integrity is impaired, the functional ability of an individual to consume an adequate diet may be adversely impacted.”

Although further studies need to examine the relationships between tooth loss and malnutrition risk, Zelig said the findings show that dental clinics are ideal locations to perform nutritional status screenings as they can identify patients who may not regularly visit a primary care provider and who may be at risk for malnutrition. “Clinicians also can provide patients with referrals to Registered Dietitians and community assistance programs such as Meals on Wheels to prevent further decline in nutritional status,” she said.

This was the first part of a mixed-methods grant to research the associations between tooth loss and nutritional status in older adults. The second part of the grant built on these results and qualitatively studied the eating experience and eating-related quality of life of community-dwelling older adults using qualitative interviews.

The study sets the stage for further research to examine the relationships between tooth loss and malnutrition risk and the impact of tooth loss on the eating experience and eating-related quality of life.

Story Source:

Materials provided by Rutgers University. Original written by Patti Verbanas. Note: Content may be edited for style and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. R. Zelig, L. Byham-Gray, S.R. Singer, E.R. Hoskin, A. Fleisch Marcus, G. Verdino, D.R. Radler, R. Touger-Decker. Dentition and Malnutrition Risk in Community Dwelling Older Adults. Journal of Aging Research and Clinical Practice, 2018; 7: 107-114 DOI: 10.14283/jarcp.2018.19

Cite This Page:

Rutgers University. “Tooth loss can indicate malnutrition, study finds: Older adults who have 10 to 19 teeth are at higher risk for malnutrition.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 25 October 2018. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2018/10/181025141018.htm>.
Rutgers University. (2018, October 25). Tooth loss can indicate malnutrition, study finds: Older adults who have 10 to 19 teeth are at higher risk for malnutrition. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 26, 2018 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2018/10/181025141018.htm
Rutgers University. “Tooth loss can indicate malnutrition, study finds: Older adults who have 10 to 19 teeth are at higher risk for malnutrition.” ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2018/10/181025141018.htm (accessed October 26, 2018).

Top Articles

Phytochemicals: beyond vitamins

Phytochemicals are non-nutritive chemicals in plant foods that protect plants from microbial invasions and infections.

Read More

Parasitic worms cause cancer — and could help cure it

Billions worldwide are infected with tropical worms. Unsurprisingly, most of these people live in poor countries, kept poor by the effects of worm-related malnourishment. What may surprise many is that worms also cause the majority of cases of some cancers in these countries.

Read More

Targeting an RNA-binding protein to fight aging

Researchers have found that the RNA-binding protein PUM2 contributes to the accumulation of defective mitochondria, a key feature of the aging process. Targeting PUM2 in old animals protects against age-related mitochondrial dysfunction.

Read More

Latest News

Biochemists discover new insights into what may go awry in brains of Alzheimer’s patients

Three decades of research on Alzheimer’s disease have not produced major treatment advances for patients. Researchers now report new insights that may lead to progress in fighting the devastating disease. They discovered beta amyloid has a specific amino acid that can form a kink, like a kink in a garden hose, creating a harmful molecular zipper and leading to the death of neurons.

Read

Dementia care program improves mental health of patients, caregivers

A comprehensive dementia care program staffed by nurse practitioners working within a health system improves the mental and emotional health of patients and their caregivers.

Read

UTI discovery may lead to new treatments

Sufferers of recurring urinary tract infections (UTIs) could expect more effective treatments. UTIs are one of the most common bacterial infections.

Read

“Our bodies are our gardens - our wills are our gardeners.”

William Shakespeare