Oral Health

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Oral Care for the Dependent Elderly
Oral Care System Oral Care Support Instrument

Oral Care Clinic

National Center for Geriatrics and Gerontology
36-3 Gengo, Morioka-cho, Obu, Aichi Japan 474-8511 (Phone)+81-562-46-2311 (Fax)+81-562-44-8518

Introduction
The need for oral care for the dependent elderly As society ages, maintaining oral hygiene so that food can be chewed well and enjoyed is very important in terms of quality of life (QOL). Recently, oral care for the elderly has become a topic of increasing interest, yet many dependent elderly have difficulty brushing their own teeth. Moreover, since it is not easy for family members or caregivers to clean another person's teeth, the teeth of dependent elderly who cannot brush themselves are often simply left unclean. Recently, we are coming to a better understanding of how foreign bodies and bacteria in the mouth are related to aspiration pneumonia (a disease that occurs when foreign bodies or bacteria enter the lungs via the mouth) and endocarditis (a disease of bacterial proliferation in the heart), as well as the effects of mastication on senility and dementia. Of particular note is the solid scientific evidence that aspiration pneumonia, the leading direct cause of death among the elderly, can be prevented by thorough oral care. Preventing the development of these diseases through appropriate oral care, and maintenance of oral and general health, are goals of all of us involved in dental care. In November 1999, the Department of Dental Surgery at Chubu National Hospital, National Institute of Longevity Science (Now: National Center for Geriatrics and Gerontology , established the first oral care outpatient clinic in the nation. We have instructed many people in methods of systematic oral care, and the service has earned a good reputation. In addition to providing tooth-brushing instruction for the healthy elderly, we have also developed an oral care procedure (oral care system) using an electric toothbrush for the dependent elderly who have difficulty maintaining oral health by themselves. This project was funded by a 2000-2002 grant in aid for scientific research (longevity science general research project, chief researcher Yasunori Sumi) from the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare. The system we developed is quick, reliable, safe, inexpensive, effective, easy, and cleans the entire mouth. Furthermore, for people who require a higher level of care, such as those who cannot communicate well, dislike oral care provided by a caregiver, or have difficulty gargling so that this oral care system cannot easily be used, we have developed an oral care support instrument for the convenient and appropriate provision of oral care. These procedures are now being applied clinically with the aim of improving the QOL of both dependent elderly and their care providers. Yasunori Sumi, D.D.S., Ph.D. Director, Division of Oral and Dental Surgery, Department of Advanced Medicine National Center for Geriatrics and Gerontology, Japan

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A quick review of the oral conditions of the dependent elderly Maintaining oral hygiene is very difficult for dependent elderly who cannot freely brush their teeth.

Entire mouth unclean.

Bits of food remaining

Patient with dementia

Patient whose left side is paralyzed from a stroke

The mouths of dependent elderly with dementia or paralysis are often not sufficiently cleaned, and food remains lodged in the mouth. Moreover, some elderly people leave dentures in their mouths for long periods. In such cases, the unclean dentures can foul the surrounding teeth or mucosa supporting the dentures. Unclean denture Swollen gingiva

Patient with multiple cerebral infarction

Contamination (dental plaque, bacteria) of the teeth may be difficult to identify just by looking, but staining with a dye can reveal how unhygienic some mouths actually are.

Specific oral care methods

Stain plaque

It is difficult to determine how...
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