by: Annabelle Short
When residing in a senior residence or when receiving other senior care services, it is imperative that senior citizens get the treatment they need and deserve. Where each level of care offer services that meet specific needs, everyone has room for improvement. One particular area of concern happens to be dental hygiene. Here are a few suggestions for improving dental hygiene when residing in a nursing home.
Why Is Oral Health So Important?
We all know how important oral health is in our daily lives. Most of us brush and floss twice a day and see the dentist about once a year. Many people also invest larger expenses into their dentistry such as braces and oral surgeries such as the removal of wisdom teeth.
As someone gets older, though, dentistry not only stays important, it becomes more important. For one, many older adults are on medications that have side effects that affect oral health such as hypersalivation, hyposalivation, periodontal disease, and more.
Then, it also comes down to care. When an older person is in a nursing home, they aren’t able to make their own dental appointments anymore. For many of these residents, keeping up with their regular dental routine of brushing, flossing, and rinsing with mouthwash becomes harder thanks to both physical and mental handicaps.
Knowing how important oral health is, it’s important to consider how residents in nursing homes can be helped in taking care of oral health.
Help Them Keep Up Their Routines
The most basic thing that can be done for residents in nursing homes is to help them keep up with their oral hygiene routines. This is the bare minimum that can be done. It should also be noted that long term care facilities that accept Medicare or Medicaid payments are federally mandated to help with daily oral hygienic care, so doing otherwise leaves that nursing home below federal.
It wouldn’t be difficult to do either. In most nursing homes, there are multiple residents that need help with basic care facets such as bathing, going to the bathroom, eating, and taking their medication. So, it only makes sense that oral hygiene would fall under the category of things that residents are reminded to do and helped with if needed.
Another big part of this is to provide residents with what they need. Nursing homes should make sure that each resident has the essentials. For instance, a toothbrush and toothpaste. Additionally, nursing homes should be aware of and accommodating to additional oral hygiene – such as denture care – for residents who need it.
It should also be noted that professionals that work in nursing homes should have training in how to take care of their residents’ oral health. After all, taking care of the oral health of residents to the best of your ability isn’t exactly the same as taking care of your own oral health. Additionally, a professional cannot provide the best care for a resident if they are uninformed of what the best care is.
While the daily oral care that professionals within a nursing home provide is important, it isn’t the only concern to be handled. For instance, an individual could brush their teeth twice a day, every day and still end up with dental problems if they never went to see a professional dentist.
As such, it is important that residents in a nursing home still have access to see a dentist. Just as nursing homes make sure that nursing home patients see doctors as much as needed, they should also make sure that they see a dentist as much as they need it.
Another idea is that each resident should have a dental screening as they enter the nursing home of their choosing. This would entail making sure each resident was healthy and didn’t have any pre-existing dental conditions upon their admittance to the nursing home. This way, if they do have any issues withstanding when they are admitted, the nursing home knows to keep an eye on these issues and take action to help control and in some cases correct any problems.
Emergency Dental Care
Finally, nursing homes need to be prepared for the unexpected. Just like the rest of us, sometimes more often than the rest of us, older individuals can run into dental emergencies. From the sudden toothache to a chipped tooth, the occasional emergency will crop up and nursing homes need to be ready to deal with this.
Luckily, there are plenty of 24-hour dentists that specialize in taking care of dental emergencies. These are dentists that you can go to when you run into an emergency, though.
One way to find the dentist you need is to use Emergency Dentist USA. This service allows you to choose your state and then find the type of dentist you need – from weekend dentists to dental emergency rooms.
A great idea would be for emergency dental services to work in tandem with nursing homes. This way, residents of the nursing home and their families wouldn’t have to worry about what would happen if the resident had a dental emergency late at night, over the weekend, or on a holiday.