Oral and nutritional status—Is the MNA a useful tool for dental clinics

H Soini, S Muurinen, P Routasalo, E Sandelin, N Savikko, M Suominen, A Ainamo, K H Pitkala
Journal of Nutrition, Health & Aging 2006, 10 (6): 495-499; discussion 500-501

OBJECTIVES: To determine the oral status of elderly residents in nursing homes (NH) and long term care wards (LT) and to describe associations between oral status and nutritional status among institutionalized elderly residents.

DESIGN: Descriptive, cross-sectional study.

SETTING: All elderly residents in all NH and LT in Helsinki, the capital of Finland.

PARTICIPANTS: The study included 2036 out of 2424 (84 %) eligible subjects in NH, 1052 out of 1444 (73%) eligible subjects in LT, and all wards in NH (N = 92) and LT (N = 53).

MEASUREMENTS: A structured questionnaire, oral examination, and Mini Nutritional Assessment (MNA) were completed by ward nurses for all participating residents. The structured questionnaire included information on oral status and oral health problems, demographic characteristics, functional status, diseases and medication. One questionnaire for each ward was used to evaluate the daily ward routines related to nutritional care and meal management.

RESULTS: 11 % of the NH residents and 3 % of LH patients were well nourished. Of NH residents 60 % were at risk of malnutrition and 29 % were malnourished. The respective figures for LT patients were 40 % and 57 %. Nutritional status was significantly associated with oral status and with the number of oral health problems. Those with mixed dentition or complete dentures tended to have better nutritional status than those totally edentulous without prosthesis. Malnutrition increased consistently with the increasing number of oral health problems (including chewing problems, swallowing difficulties, pain in mouth and xerostomia).

CONCLUSION: In the population of institutionalized frail elderly, malnutrition was related to both poor oral status and oral health problems.

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