1. Rosenberg, Karen


According to this study:


* Polypharmacy is independently associated with poor oral health in older adults.



Article Content

Older adults' oral health status is known to be related to general health problems and prognoses. Researchers sought to determine the relationship between oral health status and polypharmacy in elderly patients admitted to a recovery and rehabilitation unit.


The cross-sectional study included 471 patients (mean age, 81.9 years; 73.5% were women). Oral health was evaluated using the Oral Health Assessment Tool, on which a higher score indicates poorer oral health status. In this study, poor oral health was defined as a score of 3 or more, and polypharmacy was defined as taking six or more medications.


The polypharmacy group included 268 patients (56.9%). Using the Oral Health Assessment Tool, the researchers found that 240 patients (51%) had a score of 3 or more. Polypharmacy was significantly associated with poor oral health status, even after adjusting for confounding factors, such as age, sex, body mass index, and number of comorbidities.


Because this was a cross-sectional study, the authors note, a causal relationship between polypharmacy and poor oral health couldn't be established. The study took place on a single unit, so the results may not be applicable to other populations, they add, noting also that the duration of medication use varied among patients.


The study indicates that medical professionals other than dentists can help to detect oral problems earlier if they focus on the number of medications patients are taking. Moreover, reducing or changing the number of medications patients take could lead to a reduction in oral problems and other adverse effects, the researchers advise.


Nakamura J, et al Geriatr Gerontol Int 2021;21(1):66-70.