Oral frailty dissected and conceptualized: A scoping review

Karl G.H. Parisius*, Eva Wartewig, Linda J. Schoonmade, Ghizlane Aarab, Robbert Gobbens, Frank Lobbezoo

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to JournalReview articleAcademicpeer-review


Objectives: The aim of this scoping review was threefold: 1. to identify existing definitions of oral frailty and similar terms in gerodontology literature; 2. to assess the oral frailty definitions and analyze whether these are well formulated on a conceptual level; and 3. in the absence of existing definitions meeting the criteria for good conceptual definitions, a new conceptual definition of oral frailty will be presented. Methods: A search was performed in electronic databases and internet search engines. Studies explaining or defining oral frailty or similar terms were of interest. A software-aided procedure was performed to screen titles and abstracts and identify definitions of oral frailty and similar terms. We used a guide to assess the quality of the oral frailty definitions on methodological, linguistic, and content-related criteria. Results: Of the 1,528 screened articles, 47 full-texts were reviewed. Thirteen of these contained seven definitions of oral frailty and ten definitions of similar terms. We found that all definitions of oral frailty contain the same or equivalent characteristics used to define the concepts of 'oral health', 'deterioration of oral function', and 'oral hypofunction'. Between the seven definitions, oral frailty is described with a different number and combination of characteristics, resulting in a lack of conceptual consistency. None of the definitions of oral frailty met all criteria. Conclusion: According to our analysis, the current definitions of oral frailty cannot be considered 'good' conceptual definitions. Therefore, we proposed a new conceptual definition: Oral frailty is the age-related functional decline of orofacial structures.

Original languageEnglish
Article number104653
Pages (from-to)1-13
Number of pages13
JournalArchives of Gerontology and Geriatrics
Early online date5 Feb 2022
Publication statusPublished - May 2022

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The authors have no financial or any other type of personal conflict of interest regarding the content of this study. This study was funded by the Dutch Organization for Scientific Research (Nederlandse Organisatie voor Wetenschappelijk Onderzoek NWO); grant number 023.015.022. The funder was not involved in the design, methods, data collection, analysis, or preparation of this manuscript. The content is solely the authors' responsibility and does not necessarily reflect the views of the Dutch Organization for Scientific Research.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022


  • age-related decline
  • conceptual definition
  • conceptual definition assessment guide
  • Oral frailty
  • orofacial function-related decline


Dive into the research topics of 'Oral frailty dissected and conceptualized: A scoping review'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this