Purpose: Conventional oral exercises in previous studies are considered impractical for continuous use in the elderly because of the extended duration needed for effective outcomes. Therefore, in the present study, a simple oral exercise (SOE) was developed to reduce performance time, focusing on improvements in mastication, salivation, and swallowing functions. The aim of this study was to determine the short-term effects of the SOE with respect to improving mastication, salivation, and swallowing function in elderly subjects ≥65 years of age. Patients and methods: The study included 84 subjects, all of whom performed the SOE 2 times per day for 1 week. Masticatory performance was assessed using the mixing ability index (MAI). Unstimulated saliva and the degree of moisture of the tongue/buccal mucosa were evaluated, and the repetitive saliva swallowing test was performed. On the basis of each of these four measurements, subjects were dichotomized into two groups with high (good) and low (poor) conditions. The same evaluations were conducted before and immediately after intervention, as well as after 1 week of intervention. A subjective evaluation with questionnaires was performed after 1 week of intervention. The changes were analyzed using repeated-measures ANOVA, Cochran’s Q test, and McNemar’s test. Results: The mean MAI increased by 6% immediately after the intervention, and by 16% in the poor-chewing group. Similarly, the amount of unstimulated saliva increased by 0.1 ml/ min immediately after the SOE, and by 29% in the poor-salivation group. The degree of tongue moisture increased by 3% and was maintained. In the poor-swallowing group, 25% and 40% of the subjects were upgraded to the good-swallowing group immediately after intervention, as well as after 1 week of intervention, respectively. The subjects experienced less discomfort as their oral function improved. Conclusion: The SOE was effective in immediately improving oral functions, and improvement was maintained for 1 week.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Geriatrics and Gerontology