Prevention of oral functional decline

Hiroshi Ogawa, Gerry McKenna, Matana Kettratad-Pruksapong

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)
40 Downloads (Pure)


The oral cavity functions in eating, speaking, socialising, and serving as a natural barrier to external pathogens. In the prevention of oral functional decline in older people, oral health conditions should be maintained through public health actions. This article discusses public health actions to prevent oral functional decline through addressing 3 major issues amongst older people: tooth loss, hyposalivation, and oral cancer. Negative impacts of tooth loss, hyposalivation, and oral cancer will be described, followed by describing public health approaches to prevent these problems.Tooth loss, commonly caused by dental caries and periodontal diseases, affects one's ability to eat, speak, and socialise freely. Prevention of tooth loss can be done in clinical settings, in community settings, and through national policies. Saliva plays an important role in eating, swallowing, and protecting oral mucosa from pathogens. The major causes of dry mouth are polypharmacy and the use of anticholinergic medications amongst older people. Public health actions to promote collaboration between dentists and doctors in the adjustment of drug prescriptions are warranted. Oral cancer can affect oral function largely both from the disease itself and from cancer treatments due to the destruction of oral structures and salivary gland function. Tobacco use and alcohol consumption are major risk factors for oral cancer; they also contribute to various systemic diseases and cancers of other organs. Public health policies and interventions using the common risk factor approaches to tackle tobacco and alcohol consumption should be encouraged. Rather than focusing on older people, the prevention of oral functional decline should be planned through a life-course perspective.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)S21-S26
Number of pages6
JournalInternational Dental Journal
Issue numberIssue 4 Supplement
Publication statusPublished - 25 Aug 2022


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