Despite the advancements and improvements in nursing homes, California nursing home dental services still face a lot of challenges that need to be addressed. There are numerous barriers to providing proper oral services to this population. It should be a priority for nursing homes, dentists and society at large to meet these challenges. Most of the people in nursing homes still have their teeth intact and all they need is to take care of their natural teeth.
Evidence of poor oral services leading to general health problems
If oral problems are not addressed on time, they can cause more than mouth pain. Untreated tooth decay, inflamed gingival tissues, broken teeth and problems with dentures can impair the ability of a person to eat and this can affect their nutritional status.
There is evidence of an independent association between malnutrition and oral health status in nursing home residents. It is, therefore, important to be very careful when it comes to oral health. People with poor oral health could experience mouth pain, swallowing difficulties and dry mouth.
There is a correlation between life-threatening systemic diseases and poor oral health. A lot of studies show a positive relationship between providing proper oral care and a reduction in the inflammation of the lungs because of breathing in foreign materials such as food. Complications from pneumonia can be fatal. Getting services from a mobile dental clinic and improved oral hygiene reduces the incidence of respiratory diseases among senior citizens residing in nursing homes or those that are being cared for in ICUs.
Periodontal diseases have also been known to interfere with glycemic control in people suffering from diabetes, potentially leading to myocardial disease, kidney disease and peripheral neuropathy. This is disconcerting because about 25% of people living in nursing homes suffer from diabetes, most of who suffer from type 2 diabetes mellitus. People with type two diabetes and periodontitis are 6 times more likely to experience worsening control of glycemic over time compared to people without periodontitis.
Cardiovascular conditions have also been associated with periodontal disease. Scientific research suggests that periodontal disease may be a major risk factor for atherosclerosis and this leads to stroke and coronary artery disease.
Barriers to providing dental services in nursing homes
Now that we have seen that poor oral health can lead to a lot of complications, it is important to know some of the barriers to providing proper dental services in nursing homes.
The problem of bad oral health among seniors in nursing homes is multifactorial. It is important to maintain good oral health among seniors by ensuring daily oral hygiene. This task may seem simple but it comes with a lot of challenges. A lot of residents in nursing homes have problems brushing their teeth due to limited mobility, manual dexterity, cognitive impairment, and vision problems.
This means that California nursing home dental services should be taken to a different level. While people without the above challenges can be taught how to brush and floss their teeth, some seniors with the above challenges may need help in maintaining proper oral hygiene.