National League of NursingNational League of Nursing

The Voice of Nursing Education


ACE-S Triptych


The Importance of Oral-Systemic Health in Older Adults

Printer friendly version of this teaching strategy


Smiles for Life, an interprofessional oral health curriculum produced by the Society of Teachers of Family Medicine, consists of eight 45-minute models that contain the core components of oral health throughout the lifespan.

Included in the curriculum is a comprehensive set of educational objectives based on the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME) competencies, test questions, resources for further learning, oral health web links, an implementation guide, and detailed module outlines. CE credit is available for each module upon completion.

The modules that pertain to the aging population are:

Module #1, The Relationship of Oral to Systemic Health

Module #7, The Oral Exam

Module #8, Geriatric Oral Health

Download SFL Modules 1,7, & 8 with Speaker Notes or PowerPoint slides to present to students or have the students complete these modules on their own prior to class. After completing each module, students must complete the appropriate SFL quiz and submit SFL Certificates of Completion for each module to the faculty member.

Students can also download:

  • Smiles for Life “SFL Adult Oral Health Pocket Card”
  • Smiles for Life app for mobile devices to use as a reference in the clinical area


Read: Putting the Mouth Back in the Head: HEENT to HEENOT (Haber et al., 2015)

  • Students will:
    • Choose an oral-systemic health problem from table below
    • Present photos of the oral – systemic problem
    • Describe how the oral manifestation is linked to the systemic disease.
    • Describe an oral health preventive intervention or anticipatory guidance you would implement for the oral manifestation.





Periodontal disease


Mucositis, xerostomia, bleeding gums

Autoimmune disease: Celiac

Enamel dysplasia

Eating disorders

Enamel erosion


Oropharyngeal cancer


Oral lesion


Getting Started
Suggested Reading
Author Information