While there is an epidemic currently facing many nursing homes and assisted living facilities around the country, there is little being done to address the issue. Many adults have voiced their concern for the care their elderly parents are receiving from the nursing home staff where they permanently reside, bringing to light how oral hygiene seems to be treated as an afterthought rather than as a necessity.
We understand how chaotic the day-to-day schedule of a nursing home staff member can be, but this does not excuse the lack of oral care given to residents. Even though there may be more pressing issues to attend to at the onset, like making sure the individual has been bathed and given the necessary doses of their medications, time still needs to be made for brushing and flossing teeth.
Small acts such as these do not demand much time from a nurse, yet they are paramount in sustaining the health of residents. Frequent and consistent brushing and flossing keeps teeth and gums healthy, warding of gum disease, cavities, and decaying teeth, all of which, when neglected, can cause other life-threatening diseases.
However, problems arise when dental issues begin worsening. There is only so much that a nursing home staff member is equipped to handle when it comes to caring for their patient’s teeth and gums. These workers are not intended to act as dentists, they act as caregivers to their patients in order to provide care that the residents are no longer to do for themselves. While 40 percent of nursing home staff desire more oral education, there are still limits on as far as their education can actually take them. That is why it is important that they learn to talk to their patient’s adult children about oral care.
Before any conversation can happen, nursing home staff should be well-versed in how common dental issues can turn into more serious medical conditions and what to look for in order to recognize these signs before they worsen. Even if the staff prioritizes oral hygiene, complications can develop that require the immediate action of a dentist. If a nurse can spot an issue early on, it is important that they bring it to the attention of the resident’s adult children. When everyone is working together for the best interest of the individual, true change can take place.
At Onsite Dentists Of Texas, we have built a company around this very mentality. A staff member can recognize potential problems in their patient and express their concern to the adult children, who can then seek the professional help of a dentist who has the capability of bringing an entire dentist’s office to the nursing home in order to treat their loved one.
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