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Oral Health Movement (OHM) 8020 on Oral Frailty

Oral diseases affect 3.5 billion people worldwide, with untreated dental caries being among the most common dental condition1. If left untreated, it can lead to tooth loss. This can result in modifications to a person’s choice on type of food, changes to nutrition2, weight and physical function, especially in the elderly. Tooth loss can also impact a person’s speech, appearance, and their quality of life3. Having 20 teeth has been considered essential for good function4. A 2016 study in Singapore found that only 9% of the people aged 80 years and above had at least 20 teeth5.

Oral frailty is defined as a decline in oral function, which impacts a person’s ability to chew, swallow and speak. Oral frailty has been found to be a predictor for physical frailty, dependency and mortality among the community dwelling elderly6. In addition, physically frail community-dwelling elderly have also been found to have poorer oral function compared to those who are pre-frail and robust7. If oral frailty is not addressed, it can result in eating or swallowing disorders, a deterioration of overall muscle mass, and eventually an interference in daily living activities.

About the Programme
The Oral Health Movement (OHM) 8020 is a preventive intervention programme by National Dental Centre Singapore targeting oral frailty of older adults, aged 40 years and above. The programme includes screening at various platforms in the community, followed by a preventive intervention programme to improve oral frailty in orally pre-frail or frail individuals. Recommendations on how to improve their oral frailty status will be prescribed depending on their area of weakness. Participants will be reassessed for their oral frailty status six months later.

Early identification of oral frailty and intervention is essential for healthy ageing, as it can potentially decrease physical frailty in the early stages and reduce the chronic disease burden on the healthcare system in the Singapore ageing population.

For more details, please contact ohm8020@ndcs.com.sg.


  1. Peres MA, Macpherson LMD, Weyant RJ, Daly B, Venturelli R, Mathur MR, Listl S, Celeste RK, Guarnizo-Herreño CC, Kearns C, Benzian H, Allison P, Watt RG. Oral diseases: a global public health challenge. Lancet. 2019 Jul 20;394(10194):249-260.
  2. Joshipura KJ, Willet WC, Douglass CW. The impact of edentulousness on food and nutrient intake. J Am Dent Assoc. 1996; 127:459-467
  3. Gerritsen, A. E., Allen, P. F., Witter, D. J., Bronkhorst, E. M., & Creugers, N. H. (2010). Tooth loss and oral health-related quality of life: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Health and quality of life outcomes, 8, 126.
  4. Recent Advances in Oral Health. Geneva, Switzerland: World Health Organization; 1992:16---17. WHO Technical Report Series No. 826
  5. Chiu C.T., Malhotra R., Tan S.M., Lim J., Chan A., Teoh K.H., Gan S.T., Saito Y. Dental health status of community-dwelling older Singaporeans: findings from a nationally representative survey. Gerodontology 2017; 34: 57–67
  6. Tanaka T., Takahashi K., Hirano H., Kikutani T., Watanabe Y., Ohara Y., Furuya H., Tetsuo T., Akishita M., Iijima K. Oral Fraility as a Risk Factor for Physical Frailty and Mortality in Community- Dwelling Elderly. The Journals of Gerontology: Series A, Volume 73, Issue 12, December 2018, Pages 1661–1667
  7. Watanabe Y, Hirano H, Arai H, Morishita S, Ohara Y, Edahiro A, Murakami M, Shimada H, Kikutani T, Suzuki T. Relationship Between Frailty and Oral Function in Community-Dwelling Elderly Adults. J Am Geriatr Soc. 2017 Jan;65(1):66-76.