An epidemic of sorts has been uncovered in nursing homes around the country. It has become apparent that nursing home residents stricken with dementia or other mental and physical deficiencies are unable to take care of their daily toothbrush chore. What that means is that residents are not brushing their teeth regularly. Nursing home residents’ teeth may become increasingly decayed with plaque or cavities, which often leads to gum disease, cracked teeth and other hygiene-related diseases.
Nursing homes have long overlooked the need to care for disabled residents’ dental hygiene. Late this past summer, the New York Times disclosed that many nursing home residents across the country were stricken by cavities, gum disease and cracked teeth, in part because their teeth were not kept clean.
Nursing homes most often focus on resident health and safety issues at their facilities, but many overlook dental hygiene.
Even though dental hygiene may be on the nursing home checklist of care for residents, many nursing homes do not properly train their staff to take care of infirm residents’ dental hygiene needs.
In the New York Times story, a San Antonio dentist remarked that the lack of daily oral care in nursing facilities is “an epidemic that’s almost universally overlooked.”
Since 2011, seven states have evaluated nursing home residents using a survey regarding oral health. In one instance, the state of Kansas examined 540 older nursing home residents in 20 long-term-care facilities and found that nearly 30 percent of the residents had “substantial oral debris on at least two-thirds of their teeth.” This was reported by the Kansas Bureau of Oral Health. More than one-third of the residents had untreated decay.
The oral hygiene of nursing home residents in Illinois should be made a high priority and brought to the attention of the state’s legislators. Poor dental care can also lead to other illnesses that can weaken the already compromised health of nursing home residents in Illinois.
Kreisman Law Offices has been handling nursing home abuse cases, elder abuse cases and senior citizen abuse matters for individuals and families for more than 37 years in and around Chicago, Cook County and its surrounding areas, including Des Plaines, River Grove, Orland Park, Highland Park, Wilmette, Deerfield, Wheeling, Franklin Park, Oak Park, Chicago (Austin, Norwood Park, Albany Park, Logan Square, Wicker Park, Lincoln Square, Ravenswood, Uptown, Pulaski Park), Westchester, LaGrange Park and Villa Park, Ill.
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