A trial in two Tasmanian aged care homes has demonstrated cleaning residents’ teeth twice a day has a significant effect on the rates of chest infections, and potentially save lives, according to an ABC News report.
Realising that oral health is often neglected among the elderly due to “physical inability and cognitive decline” leading to wider poor health outcomes, the trial set out to see if cleaning residents’ teeth on the recommended twice-daily two-minutes-at-a-time basis would alter high rates of chest infections, especially in the two homes used in the trial.
The results were remarkable, as ABC News notes.
“Before the trial, a Launceston home reported 19 cases of chest infection in six months. After the trial, that figure dropped to seven in six months.”
The article goes on to note that “the three-month trial showed a 57-per-cent decrease in the need for dental referrals, while the risk of aspiration, which often leads to pneumonia, dropped from 70 to 32 per cent.”
Key to the initiative is ensuring frontline understand the importance that consistent, good oral health hygiene can have on an elderly person’s general health.
The issue is even more pressing now that people are entering aged care homes with their teeth largely intact, a marked contrast to earlier decades when people had largely lost their teeth and were relying on dentures.
It is hoped that the results of the trial will have an impact not simply on the rate of chest infections but also “improve outcomes for residents with diabetes and heart conditions”, as well as allowing better treatment of conditions such as osteoporosis.
For the full article, go to “Elderly aged care residents in teeth cleaning trial had better health outcomes, researchers say”