The New York Times recently reported on the problems associated with poor dental hygiene in nursing homes around the country. The article centered in on an elderly nursing home resident in Virginia who had been complaining of pain in his mouth but was not sent to the dentist for treatment, even despite that he had dental insurance. Once his daughter finally demanded he be sent to the dentist it was discovered that his tooth had broken in two and a piece of the broken tooth had lodged in the roof of his mouth.
The article suggests that dental hygiene in nursing homes is seriously lacking for a number of reasons. One is that aides don’t have time to deal with oral care given the number of residents and other tasks they are swamped with. Another is that residents who suffer from diseases like dementia are often resistant to oral care.
Neglect in oral hygiene, according to the article, may be even more serious than at first imagined. New studies are suggesting that there is a correlation between poor oral hygiene and pneumonia, which is a leading killer of elderly nursing home residents.
To read the article and learn more about the study, click on Catherine Saint Louis’s article in the New York Times here: