News

Oral health ‘too often neglected in care homes’

Care home staff urged to make residents’ dental hygiene a daily priority
Toothbrush and toothpaste

Care home staff are being urged to do more to help residents who are unhappy and in pain because of the poor state of their teeth.

New guidance from the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence calls for oral health and dental treatment to be given the same priority as general health for adults in care homes. More than half of older people in care homes have tooth decay, compared to 40% of people over 75 and 33% of those aged over 85 who do not live in care homes.

The guidance includes recommendations on improving and maintaining individuals’ day-to-day oral health care, for example encouraging brushing at least twice a day with fluoride toothpaste and the daily cleaning of dentures.

NICE said staff should be trained to look after the oral health needs of residents, and there should be adequate access to dental services when

Care home staff are being urged to do more to help residents who are unhappy and in pain because of the poor state of their teeth.

New guidance from the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence calls for oral health and dental treatment to be given the same priority as general health for adults in care homes. More than half of older people in care homes have tooth decay, compared to 40% of people over 75 and 33% of those aged over 85 who do not live in care homes.

The guidance includes recommendations on improving and maintaining individuals’ day-to-day oral health care, for example encouraging brushing at least twice a day with fluoride toothpaste and the daily cleaning of dentures.

NICE said staff should be trained to look after the oral health needs of residents, and there should be adequate access to dental services when needed.

Associated risks

Poor oral health is linked to increased risk of mouth cancer, cardiovascular disease and aspiration pneumonia. Pain and infection can be particularly distressing to people with dementia.

NICE deputy chief executive professor Gillian Leng said: ‘While some care homes provide good daily oral health for their residents, we know oral health is too often neglected.

‘When oral health is ignored or poorly delivered in care homes it can lead to unhappy, irritable residents and for those with dementia – who often can’t describe problems with their teeth or gums – pain and infection may go untreated and worsen.’

The guideline follows a 2012 British Dental Association survey that found many residents had oral health problems but staff were reluctant to help and lacked training.

Further information

Oral Health for Adults in Care Homes

 

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