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Oral Health

Maintaining the oral health of patients in PALTC settings can be challenging but is integral to overall health and wellbeing.

Oral Health Challenges in Older Adults

  • Dental Wear and Decay: Natural wear over time, combined with a potentially increased sugary diet or medications causing dry mouth, can contribute to dental caries.
  • Periodontal Disease: Chronic gum infections not only lead to tooth loss but have been linked to cardiovascular diseases and diabetes.
  • Dysphagia and Aspiration: Poor oral health can contribute to swallowing difficulties, raising concerns about aspirating oral bacteria into the lungs and resulting in pneumonia.
  • Impact on Nutrition: Compromised dentition or pain can deter optimal dietary intake.

Protocols for Enhanced Oral Health

  • Regular Dental Screenings: Routine examinations can identify and address dental issues in their nascent stages.
  • Hygienic Protocols: Daily oral hygiene, including brushing, flossing, and the use of mouthwashes, must be consistent and adapted for those with dexterity or cognitive challenges.
  • Dry Mouth Management: Given that several medications and conditions can induce xerostomia, regular hydration and specific salivary substitutes can be considered.
  • Interdisciplinary Collaboration: The nursing staff, primary care physicians, and on-call or visiting dentists should work in tandem to ensure a holistic approach to oral care.
  • Education and Training: Staff should be taught about the nuances of oral care in older adults, especially when caring for those with cognitive decline or physical challenges.