Monday, May 23, 2011

Dental Hygiene and Dementia

In the past 30 years the number of nursing-home residents who still have their own teeth has risen significantly. Many of these people need assistance with their dental hygiene, as well as with other hygiene.

Jablonski and her team conducted a pilot study with seven people who had either moderate or severe cases of dementia. The researchers used the MOUTh technique on the subjects for two weeks, recording the state of the patients' mouths and how the patients reacted throughout the study.

At the beginning of the study all seven subjects had poor oral health, as determined by the Oral Health Assessment Tool. Eight categories concerning oral health are scored between zero and two. The lower the score the healthier the mouth. The average score for the subjects at the start of the study was 7.29. By the end of the study the average score was 1.00.

"To my knowledge, we are the only nurses in the country who are looking at ways to improve the mouth care of persons with dementia, especially those who fight and bite during mouth care," said Jablonski. "Our approach is unique because we frame resistive behavior as a reaction to a perceived threat."

Read more about this new approach to oral hygiene at the Alzheimer's Reading Room.

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