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Theoretical and hands-on guidance from dental hygienists promotes good oral health in elderly people living in nursing homes, a pilot study

Journal article
Authors B. Seleskog
L. Lindqvist
I. Wardh
A. Engstrom
Inger von Bültzingslöwen
Published in International Journal of Dental Hygiene
Volume 16
Issue 4
Pages 476-483
ISSN 1601-5029
Publication year 2018
Published at Institute of Odontology, Section 3
Pages 476-483
Language en
Keywords clinical trial, dental hygiene education, dental hygienist, gingival index, nursing home, oral hygiene, term-care facilities, qualitative interview, older-adults, perceptions, caregivers, pneumonia, education, habits, trial, Dentistry, Oral Surgery & Medicine
Subject categories Dentistry


Objectives: Oral health in nursing homes for elderly is often unsatisfactory, and oral health education to nursing staff has not shown sufficient results why there is need for novel approaches. The aim of the study was to trial a new oral healthcare educational programme and to evaluate the effects on residents' oral health. In addition, attitudes among the nursing staff in the intervention nursing home were explored. Methods: In a controlled clinical trial, two comparable nursing homes were randomly assigned for intervention or control. Interventions included weekly theoretical and hands-on guidance from dental hygienists on oral hygiene procedures and discussions on oral care routines. The residents' oral health, measured by the Revised Oral Assessment Guide (ROAG), dental plaque and gingival bleeding were evaluated at baseline and after 3 months. Attitudes among the staff to oral health care were measured at the intervention nursing home. Results: Revised Oral Assessment Guide gums and lips scores showed a tendency to decrease in the intervention group, but remained high in the control group. Plaque levels improved significantly after intervention, and a trend towards less gingival bleeding was observed. The intervention nursing staff seemed to be more aware of their own limitations concerning oral health care after intervention and valued more frequent contact with dental services to a greater extent. Conclusions: The oral healthcare situation for elderly people today is so complex that theoretical education at the group level regarding different aspects of oral health is not sufficient. Individual hands-on guidance by dental hygienists on a regular basis in everyday care may be a new approach.

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