Adults with Dementia May Require Managed Oral Care

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Image courtesy of hin255 at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

As the population ages, the need for long-term care grows. But oral care often is overlooked, particularly when illnesses like Alzheimer’s disease are a factor. Recently, researchers have examined the need for oral hygiene management by dental professionals among older adults requiring long-term care.

The research began by collecting basic data to build a dental framework on a regional level. Healthcare providers are aware of the importance of oral care for older adults requiring long-term care. However, reports call the provision of oral care insufficient, requiring the framework for dental professionals to provide oral hygiene management.

The researchers administered a survey on lifestyle and oral health to 372 older adults requiring long-term care in one town in Japan. Binomial logistic regression analysis was carried out to assess factors affecting the need for oral hygiene management. According to the survey, 66.1% of the participants required such management.

The Barthel Index, Clinical Dementia Rating, oral hygiene status, and other factors differed significantly with the presence or absence of oral hygiene management need. In addition to variables related to oral hygiene status (dental plaque and tongue coating), factors significantly affecting oral hygiene management need included the Clinical Dementia Rating (odds ratio 2.63, 95% confidence interval, 1.08-6.41).

The results suggest that the need for oral hygiene management by dental professionals increases as dementia advances. Current systems providing regional dental care, though, are structured based on the level of need and the degree of independence. The researchers say that a dementia perspective needs to be added to these systems.

The study, “Factors Associated with Older Adults’ Need for Oral Hygiene Management by Dental Professionals,” appeared in Geriatrics & Gerontology International. Authors included Shiho Morishita, Yutaka Watanabe, Yuki Ohara, Ayako Edahiro, Emiko Sato, Takeo Suga, and Hirohiko Hirano.