Although better diet quality is inversely related to the risk of geriatric disorders, the association of adherence to dietary guidelines with oral health-related quality of life (OHRQoL) is unclear. We aimed to investigate this association in older Japanese adults. This cross-sectional study included 7984 Japanese participants aged ≥ 65 years from the population-based Kyoto–Kameoka study. Dietary intake was estimated using a validated self-administered FFQ. The scores for adherence to the Japanese Food Guide Spinning Top (range: 0 (worst) to 80 (best)) were calculated. These scores were stratiﬁed into quartiles (Qs). Poor OHRQoL was defined as a score ≤ 50 using a 12-item Geriatric Oral Health Assessment Index. The OR and 95 % CI were calculated using multivariable logistic regression and the spline model. Higher adherence score was associated with a lower prevalence of poor OHRQoL (Q1–Q4:36·0 %, 32·1 %, 27·9 % and 25·1 %, respectively). An inverse association was found between the score for adherence to the food-based Japanese dietary guidelines and the OR of poor OHRQoL among all the participants (Q1: reference; Q2: OR, 0·87 (95 % CI: 0·75, 1·00); Q3: OR, 0·77 (95 % CI: 0·66, 0·90); Q4: OR, 0·72 (95 % CI: 0·62, 0·85); Pfor trend < 0·001). These relationships were similar to the results in the spline model. Higher adherence to the food-based Japanese dietary guidelines is inversely associated with the prevalence of poor OHRQoL in older adults. Our results may provide useful insights to improve and maintain oral health.