The influence of chronic diseases in the oral health of the elderly

Nélio Veiga, Adeline Domingues, Filipa Douglas, Sara Rios, Ana Vaz, Carina Coelho, Filipa Bexiga, Inês Coelho

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review



Introduction: Aging is a natural and progressive process that produces limitations and changes in the functioning of the human body, making the individual more vulnerable and susceptible to chronic disease development. The most affected systems in the elderly are the neurological, cardiovascular, respiratory, endocrine and muscularskeletel. Overall, all they affect a special system: the oral cavity. The objective of this review article consists in characterizing the influence of the major chronic diseases on the oral health of the elderly and define how the oral health professional can diagnose the oral manifestations of a chronic disease. Material and Methods: To carry out this review article the search strategies included electronic databases, reference lists of articles, and selected textbooks. Articles and textbooks used in this study were mainly reached by using the following keywords: “oral health”, “elderly”, “chronic diseases”, “cardiovascular disease”, “Parkinson’s disease”, “kidney dysfunction”, “metabolic disorders”, “quality of life”. By the end of the research, 34 scientific articles were selected. Results: An inflammation in the oral cavity can trigger a cell and immune response, which will be transmitted by the blood stream to the other components of the individual systems. Parkinson’s disease has repercussions in the oral cavity, not only by motor dysfunction, but also by administered drugs that can lead to xerostomia. Regarding renal impairment, the dental professional must pay special attention primarily to the medication prescribed to the patient, in order not to increase the risk of nephrotoxicity. Apart from this fact, scientific studies indicate a strong association between metabolic disorders and the development of oral diseases Discussion: The weakening of oral health in the elderly mainly occurs when there is a frequent decrease in medical and dental care, neglection of oral hygiene and when there is a systemic pathology responsible for the development of poor oral health conditions. Conclusions: As a result of the heterogeneity of the elderly population, the improvement of oral health should be given according to the diversity of needs required. The frequent presence of systemic diseases and polypharmacy among the elderly, in addition to the possible coexistence of various risk factors, contribute significantly to the development of oral diseases. Thus, in order to enable healthy aging, the dental professional has a key importance in the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of oral diseases among the elderly.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-6
Number of pages6
Journal Journal of dental and oral health
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 3 May 2016


  • Chronic diseases
  • Oral health
  • Elderly
  • Quality of life


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