Nursing Home Dental Care May Be Lacking Report Shows

Nursing homes care for senior residents who have a wide variety of care needs.  However, the level of staffing of Certified Nursing Aides to the number of senior residents they are caring for directly impacts the quality of care. You can review the C.N.A. to resident staffing levels in Caregiverlist's easy-to-use Nursing Home Star-Ratings directory.

Dental care for nursing home residents can impact their overall health.  This sort of makes sense, because everything needs more attention as we age and our new cells stop regenerating quickly to replace the old cells. And now we have a little research to back this up.

This means a new question to ask nursing homes when you are considering moving a senior into one for rehabilitation, should be:  "how often do you assist residents to brush their teeth?  And, "what do you do if they are resistance to dental care?"

A survey by the Association of State and Territorial Dental Directors says seven states have evaluated nursing home residents since 2011.  The findings show that there may be a growing epidemic in cavities, cracked teeth and gum disease in nursing home residents due to a lack of oral hygiene.

The association report gives the example of Kansas state, where nearly 30% of 540 older residents in 20 long-term-care facilities (that means nursing homes), had substantial oral debris on at least 2/3rds of their teeth and that regular oral care had become scarce.  

In Wisconsin, the report shows that about 31% of 1,100 nursing home residents from 24 different homes had teeth broken to the gums with visible roots, while about 35% had substantial oral debris.

Nursing home care includes dental care and the Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1987 requires brushing the teeth of nursing home residents who cannot do it themselves.  However, this is easier said than done.  As Certified Nursing Aides, or C.N.A.'s, know, if a senior is resistant to assistance, it can be very difficult to brush their teeth for them.  C.N.A.'s are required by law to be staffed at nursing homes to assist with the daily hands-on care.  

Seniors who have neglected their dental care for years prior to be admitted to a nursing home present an additional challenge.  Medicare does not pay for routine dental care.  Perhaps new technology can assist with finding a better way to assist C.N.A.'s to perform dental care in nursing homes.  The family members of seniors should be aware that they may have to step in to assist if the senior does not want to cooperate with the brushing of teeth and oral hygiene.

As assisting senior can be a challenging job, although always fulfilling, there is an ongoing demand for more Certified Nursing Aides - apply for a companion caregiving job in your area (Part-time and Full-time positions are available) and learn about becoming a C.N.A.

 

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