The current state of many nursing homes across the country is disheartening. Seniors who come to these assisted living facilities require quality care because they can no longer function independently enough to be trusted alone at home. While family members can absolutely assist their loves ones in certain circumstances, there are often physical, mental, and medical services needed that exceed their capabilities.
Nursing home staff are proficient at providing a wide array of services, especially when it comes to preventing falls and ensuring a resident takes their medication, but quality of life is diminished when oral health is sacrificed.
There are a few reasons why dental care isn’t a top priority at long-term care facilities:
No proper training. Nurses and nursing assistants receive in-depth trainings in order to provide care for residents with a variety of medical conditions and needs. However, there is no dental training outside of their basic awareness to at least encourage brushing and flossing.
Not enough time. Nursing home staff have a multitude of tasks they are required to complete daily. Some of these tasks are prioritized as being “more important” than others. Oral hygiene, unfortunately, does not fall into this category, which means that it is often bypassed to ensure that all other tasks are completed.
Difficulty dealing with unruly residents. Some residents with certain medical conditions, like dementia, become aggressive during certain personal hygiene routines. Instead of fighting back, nursing home staff will simply give up and move on.
How You Can Help
Nursing homes and their staff are undeniably partly to blame for the abhorrent lack of care. However, the fault does not fully rest on their shoulders. Dental services for these residents are severely lacking, as well as sufficient funds. Providing better care to seniors can only happen if there is a collaborative approach to better dental health.
Here is what you can do to help bring about true change in nursing homes:
Be their voice.
Oral health goes beyond simply brushing or flossing teeth. Seniors are just as entitled to receive proper dental services – like routine visits with a dental professional – as the entire population is. Be a voice for seniors and advocate for them to receive better care.
Be involved at mealtimes.
It may be odd to ask your loved one to allow them to check inside their mouth, which is a request that will most likely be refused, so visiting your loved one during a mealtime is a great way to look for signs of decaying teeth, bad breath, or inflamed gums.
Request a certified dental professional.
Ask how the nursing home approaches dental care. Even if they do make oral hygiene a priority, they still aren’t properly educated on how to provide full dental services. Talk to the facility about allowing your loved one to see a certified dental professional. At Onsite Dentists Of Texas, we will bring a traditional dentist’s office directly to your senior. We can step in and work in conjunction with nursing home staff to ensure that residents are getting the care they deserve.
Do you have a parent in a nursing home or other assisted living facility? Contact us today! We offer complimentary dental assessments and oral cancer screenings to all of our patients!