Another major factor in providing quality healthcare at nursing homes may often be overlooked: dental hygiene.
According to a new study from Dutch researchers, oral health among the elderly – especially those living at nursing homes – may be an overlooked part of a resident’s care. Many elderly residents of nursing homes may require help simply to brush their teeth and keep their mouths clean but that help may not always be available. Further, those charged with helping provide that assistance may not be delivering that care, Reuters Health reports in conjunction with the release of the study.
Many older Americans are keeping their teeth as they age as the quality of dental care improves. However, this may not be the case for many nursing home residents because they’re unable to maintain a regular schedule for brushing their teeth because they simply can’t do it anymore. And if the staff at any particular nursing home is not providing that help, the quality of that resident’s dental health will suffer and could result in more serious problems in the future, Reuters notes from the study.
Dutch researchers at the Flemish-Netherlands Geriatric Oral Research Group found that dental health issues among elderly and nursing home residents will soon be on par with problems caused by falls, dementia, and other problems that face many nursing home residents today. As these residents keep their natural teeth longer into their lives, the chances those teeth will cause problems in the future will increase without the proper care, Reuters adds. Some medications that the elderly are prescribed could also impact their dental health, the study noted. Cavities, gum disease, and complications caused by implanted teeth are just some of the issues that could arise. Other studies have linked poor dental health with even more serious problems like heart health, diabetes, and lung diseases.
In our recent reports, we have noted the problems facing many nursing homes operating in Florida and nationwide. As budgets get tighter as healthcare costs rise, nursing homes are cutting back staff or hiring less-qualified individuals to care for residents.