Providing dental care for seniors in nursing homes

Dental care

Providing nursing home dental services involves both dental and non-dental health care providers, especially direct care employees in the provision of oral care for older adults in nursing homes. It is important for everyone taking care of older adults to know the benefits of good dental health and how it promotes overall health and quality of life.

Why is oral health important?

Oral health is important because mouth problems and dental disease are common issues in the homebound population and nursing homes. You may have noticed that a lot of people you care for have dental problems.

The mouth mirrors disease and health

The mouth is the mirror of disease and health because, from the mouth, you will find microbial infections, signs of systemic diseases, and nutritional deficiencies. The mouth can reveal a lot of things about an individual’s health.

Importance of oral health to the well-being and the overall health

General health and oral health shouldn’t be thought of as two separate things. Diabetes, cardiovascular disease, malnutrition, pneumonia, and stroke are common conditions in a lot of older patients you care for. Bad oral health can make these issues worse because of the increased mouth bacteria that spreads to other systems of the body.

Mouth infections can lead to infections in other body parts via the bloodstream. Because of compromised medical health, seniors in long-term care are at a greater risk for infections. This is one of the reasons why older adults should schedule regular checkups with a mobile dental clinic. Older adults have compromised medical health and this puts them at a bigger risk for infection.

Proper oral health is crucial and contributes to keeping older adults as healthy as possible.

Consequences of bad oral health

Oral health isn’t only related to physical health. It is also related to quality of life and overall wellbeing. The consequences of bad oral health can alter the way someone acts and lives. Imagine someone with dirty dentures or bad teeth. They may not feel good about how they look and they may try to avoid people or people may avoid them. They do not want to interact with others because they have low self-esteem. Someone with dental pain will not be able to sleep or eat and this can lead to malnutrition.

Long-term dental problems

Some of the most common mouth problems include dental cavities, gum disease, sores in the mouth, lack of saliva, badly fitting dentures, and so on.

Dry mouth

Xerostomia or dry mouth is not a normal aging process as some people would believe. A lot of common medications reduce saliva production. A lot of people you care for take different medications and will suffer from the problem of dry mouth.

If you or someone you care for has dry mouth or other dental issues, it is important to contact nursing home dental services because dry mouth can increase the risk of gum disease, dental cavities, and infection. Also, dry mouth can make it hard for someone to taste, swallow, eat, and cause dentures not to fit.

Written by Lee Newton