OBJECTIVES: This study aimed to review the effectiveness of oral health promotion studies conducted among elderly people between 1997 and 2007.
METHODS: Four electronic databases were searched and papers were rated for level of evidence and scientific quality. Key findings of the papers were summarised.
RESULTS: Thirteen thousand nine hundred and four papers were retrieved and 17 studies (18 papers) met the criteria for the review: 13 were randomised controlled studies, three were quasi-experimental studies and one was a pre-/post-single group intervention study. According to the Levels of Evidence, 11 studies could be categorised as 1b and six studies could be categorised as 2b. The quality of the evidence of the 17 studies ranged from 12 to 19; 13 of the studies had a score of 15 or above; four of the studies ranged from 12 to 14. Evidence from oral health promotion activities aimed at preventing caries, improving periodontal health and altering oral health behaviours were reviewed. The use of fluoride, antimicrobial agents and health-care provider education has important roles within oral health promotion activities for elderly people. Studies have tended to be of short-term duration and rely on surrogate outcome measures of oral health.
CONCLUSION: In the last 10 years, increasing attention has been paid to oral health promotion activities among the elderly population and high quality evidence has emerged. However, there is a need for even higher-quality research to provide more definitive guidelines on oral health promotion practices for elderly people.