Oral Health in Older Adults Linked to Bone Density Measurements

Smiling senior woman giving a medical card to clinic receptionist. Happy elderly woman at dental clinic for treatment.
Bone density often decreases with age and is closely related to overall physical performance. Researchers studied whether the relationship between bone density and overall physical health extended to oral health as well.

Bone density is associated with occlusal force and may be an indicator of oral health among older adults, according to a study published in BMC Geriatrics.

Adults (N=754) were recruited at the Hyogo College of Medicine in Japan between 2015 and 2018 for a  cross-sectional study. Participants were evaluated for bone density, skeletal muscle, physical performance, and oral function.

The study population comprised individuals aged median 72 (interquartile range [IQR], 68-77) years, body mass index (BMI) was 22.7 (IQR, 20.8-24.4) kg/m2, skeletal muscle mass index (SMI) was 6.4 (IQR, 5.8-7.2) kg/m2, 34.5% had osteoporosis, and each study member had an average of 23 remaining teeth (IQR, 15-27). Men (n=276) and women (n=478) differed significantly for many characteristics including age (P =.08), BMI (P <.001), and bone density (P <.001).

A total of 260 had osteoporosis (men: n=65; women: n=195), 287 had decreased bone mass (men: n=95; women: n=192), and 207 had normal bone density (men: n=116; women: n=91). Stratified by gender and bone density status, individuals with osteoporosis had lower speed of sound (SOS) and young adult mean (YAM) bone density status measures than those with decreased bone mass who had lower values than those with normal density (all P <.001).

Among all participants, bone density associated with gender (b, -0.28; P <.001), age (b, -0.185; P <.001), BMI (b, 0.128; P =.001), one-leg standing time (b, 0.108; P =.009), and occlusal force (b, 0.09; P =.017).

For men, the factors associated with bone density were one-leg standing time (b, 0.277; P <.001), BMI (b, 0.205; P =.001), and occlusal force (b, 0.133; P =.026). Among women, only age was significantly associated (b, -0.245; P <.001).

This study was limited by its cross-sectional design, so causal relationships could not be assessed.

“The bone density in the older adults showed a significant relationship not only with the clinical characteristics or physical performance but also with occlusal force,” the study authors concluded. “It may also be effective to confirm a good oral function in order to maintain healthy living for older adults.”

Disclosure: This research was supported in part by the Hyogo Dental Association, the Mitsui Sumitomo Insurance Welfare Foundation, and others. Please see the original reference for a full list of disclosures.


Hasegawa Y, Tsuji S, Nagai K, et al. The relationship between bone density and the oral function in older adults: a cross-sectional observational study. BMC Geriatr. 2021;(21):591. doi:10.1186/s12877-021-02547-6