Do Nursing Homes Offer Dental Care? Meeting a Resident’s Oral Hygiene Needs

Certified Senior Advisor (CSA)®
Assistive Technology Professional
Updated:

The availability and quality of dental care varies from facility to facility. It may fall to you to make sure your loved one gets the care they need. Learn more about dental care in nursing homes.

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If you have parents that live in a nursing home, you need to make sure their medical needs are met and this includes dental. Many senior living facilities may provide many fantastic services to the residents. And while some of these facilities may arrange transport to a dental clinic to treat toothache or for routine teeth cleaning, some patients can be confined to the facility due to medical reasons.

When your grandpa, grandma, dad, or mom cannot leave their facility, you will need to make sure their oral needs have been met. Seniors need to receive home dental care in a nursing home since certain health conditions including periodontal disease often lead to life-threatening or scary medical conditions like strokes and heart diseases.

Studies of Dental Care in Nursing Homes

According to the www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov website, of the 1.4 million people residing in nursing facilities, only 16% are receiving oral care and 15% of these were reported as maintaining better or good oral hygiene. Oral care that these residents received included mainly tooth brushing lasting around 1.25 minutes.

In 2013, Sloane, Chen, and Zimmerman conducted an oral health care survey involving a patient-centered program in various nursing homes. They discovered that satisfactory healthcare requires 6 minutes to floss, clean, brush, etc, to maintain adequate oral health.

According to one of the random samples of the residents in nursing homes in a hospice or with dementia, more than 14 of the nursing homes located in North Carolina discovered that plaque was covering over 1/3 of the tooth surface or 50% or more of the denture surfaces.

In 2018, a study in Japan was conducted of nursing-home care providers that suggested that the caregivers in the tested facilities were learning dental knowledge according to a case-by-case basis when working with the residents. These studies suggest that training is required in order to prepare the caregivers so that they can adequately address the resident’s oral health requirements.

Are Your Parent’s Dental Needs Being Met In A Nursing Facility?

According to the American Dental Association, each nursing facility differs according to the services that they provide and the type of oral health care on offer. This is why it is essential to do your own research before choosing a nursing facility for a loved one.

For example, certain nursing facilities schedule dental teams and dentists to provide dental care at the facility. For other nursing homes, you will have to arrange these visits yourself or you may even need to take the time to drive your parent to a dental office.

When you have a parent in a nursing facility, you need to ensure all their medical requirements are met, and this includes dental. Many of the nursing facilities don’t have sufficient oral health programs, which may impact your loved one’s oral care. This can become an issue since poor oral and denture health can lead to various health issues that can affect your loved one’s quality of life.

In many cases, residents in a nursing home cannot advocate when it comes to their best care. This is why you must address these needs. Residents with reduced or compromised motor skills, Alzheimer’s, or Dementia, usually cannot keep their dentures clean or even brush their own teeth. These residents also cannot explain why they are feeling discomfort or suffering from a toothache.

Poor oral health can affect an elderly person’s ability to eat and chew various types of food. This can lead to weight loss or reduced dietary intake. Poor oral health often leads to discomfort, which can disrupt sleep.

There are more than 100 systemic diseases relating to oral manifestations including nutritional problems, diabetes, pancreatic cancer, respiratory infections, stroke, and cardiovascular disease. This relationship is bidirectional, and this link is known as inflammation.

Conclusion

If you have parents living in a nursing home, it is important to ensure the facility is providing a program that offers oral health care. There are also mobile geriatric oral and denture companies that visit some of the nursing facilities.

Before you decide on a nursing home for a loved one, make sure that you find out if these services are on offer. The right dental care will ensure that your loved one can continue to smile, speak, chew, and eat with dignity.

Certified Senior Advisor (CSA)®
Assistive Technology Professional

Scott Grant has spent more than 20 years serving seniors and the elderly in the home medical equipment industry. He has worked as a manufacturer's rep for the top medical equipment companies and a custom wheelchair specialist at a durable medical equipment (DME) provider in WV. He is father to 4 beautiful daughters and has three terrific grandkids. When not promoting better living for older adults, he enjoys outdoor activities including hiking and kayaking and early morning runs.

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