Oral Hygiene And The Elderly Essay

Oral Hygiene And The Elderly Essay

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The elderly community is rapidly increasing. This is one of the major causes for increased health problems and inability for these patients to comply with medical standards. Oral hygiene, among others, is one of the most disregarded. As one’s age increases dental hygiene becomes more and more important to maintain a healthy lifestyle because the elderly are more susceptible to infections and diseases of the oral cavity that can easily spread through-out the body.
Oral health is much worse for elders who are in the nursing home setting as opposed to those who are not. Elders in nursing homes are most commonly less cognitive, meaning they have to rely on the nurses for almost all aspects of their care. Oral health for the residents is not seen as a priority by the nurses, resulting in poor hygiene. Oral negligence is the one of biggest reasons for poor dental health in the elderly. One study shows that out of four hundred and forty-two residents sixty-five percent had dentures with visible debris, calculus, and stains that would not come off, and that fifty-three percent had denture induced pathology that required treatment, yet remained unnoticed by the staff (Kishore 2). Poor oral hygiene can cause dentures to break or come loose, xerostomia (dry mouth), bleeding gums, periodontal disease, and many other problems, diseases, and infections (2). Another major problem for the elderly is that their medications can often cause them to have xerostomia, and without saliva the debris does not get washed off during the day which makes taking care of the oral cavity that much more important. Sixty-eight to ninety-five percent of elders are on medications that contain the risk to cause xerostomia (2). Some medications for elderly can also ...


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..., upper respiratory infections, and pneumonia (Munro 283).
Oral hygiene is crucial to elders to maintain a healthy lifestyle for as long as they can. Oral health often gets thrown under the table as a low priority, when it really needs to be put at the top of the list. Elders and nurses both need to understand the importance of oral health. Even if residents of nursing homes do not understand the importance that they keep up on their oral hygiene, it is the nurses’ job to instill in their mind that if they do not take care of their teeth, they are more susceptible to oral diseases. Poor oral health causes many life-threatening, or just plain awful diseases that no one should have to go through; however most of these diseases can be prevented through proper dental hygiene. Oral hygiene needs to be taken more seriously to keep elders’ health at the best possible level.

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