Oral Hygiene for People with Dementia

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Assignment 1

Evidence based practice

"Oral Hygiene for adults with Dementia"


The purpose of this essay is to discuss a clinical skill or nursing action by referring to the nursing and allied health literature to explain and support evidence based practice. The skill I wish to examine is the practice of oral hygiene for adults with dementia in residential aged care facilities. In this essay I aim to provide the reader with adequate references to support the best practice for oral hygiene for people with dementia.

-Evidence based practice -

Good oral health is important for a person's sense of well being and quality of life (Fiske, 2001). Inadequate oral hygiene can lead to pain, tooth loss, oral disease, dehydration and speech impediments. It can also affect self-esteem and the ability to eat and talk comfortably (Chalmers, Carter & Spencer, 2004). Behavioural problems in people with dementia can be caused by dental pain and problems (Chalmers, Carter & Spencer, 2004).

In concern with oral hygiene, as dementia progresses it may: •Reduce a person's oral hygiene care abilities.
•Reduce their ability to communicate dental pain and problems to others. •Increase barriers to accessing dental treatment, including transportation, financial, and communication barriers. •Decrease older adults' and caregivers' recognition of the significance and consequences of dental pain. •Decrease older adults' and caregivers' perception of need for dental treatment. •Increase the use of medications for behaviour management (JBI, 2004).

According to a report released by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) the oral health of older adults with dementia is considerably worse than those of the non-dementia counterparts (AIHW, 2005). At the beginning of the study they found that tooth decay was present in just under half of the dementia sufferers compared to 15.5% for the rest of the population (AIHW, 2005) This went up to 60% in the group to 28.5% in the non dementia group one year later (AIHW, 2005). This report also found that many more dementia sufferers needed help with their oral hygiene and many persons exhibited resistive or combative behaviour during the care giving process, with one third refusing to open their mouths (AIHW, 2005). Other concerns included the decreased use of fluoride from sources such as toothpastes (AIHW, 2005). Professor Spencer, from AIHW Dental Statistics and Research unit, considers that ‘carers need training and support to improve the oral hygiene care for older adults with dementia' (AIHW, 2005).

-Assessment, Hygiene and Treatment-

Three key oral health components in residential age care setting have been identified (JBI, 2004). These are oral assessment, oral hygiene and dental treatment (JBI, 2004).
The need of assessment is vital to promote and maintain adequate oral hygiene (JBI, 2004). Generally assessment is dependent upon a person's ability to report signs and symptoms and to remain co-operative throughout a dental examination (JBI, 2004, vol.8). Whereas assessment of a person with dementia can be a challenge, the resident may not be able to state any pain, symptoms or problems (JBI, 2004). They may also become agitated and restless and will not allow anyone to complete a full assessment on them (JBI, 2004). There are several assessments tools available one of these is the Brief Oral Health Status Examination (BOHSE), which has been tested on cognitively impaired and unimpaired elderly. It has been modified and utilized on a population of cognitively impaired elderly and found to be useful when used by Certified Nurses The BOHSE contains a measurement column that provides the nurse with a description of how to assess the item directly on the form. The BOHSE is an instrument used for screening purposes only. It is not a diagnostic tool and does not replace the need for a periodic examination by a professional dentist. Prior to...
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