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Oral status, cognitive and functional capacity versus oral treatment need in nursing home residents: a comparison between assessments by dental and ward staff


Dr. Gunilla Nordenram, Department of Geriatric Dentistry, Institution of Odontology, Karolinska Institutet, Box 4064, 141 04 Huddinge, Sweden. Tel: +46 08 728 8093, Fax: +46 08 746 6018, E-mail:


OBJECTIVES: The aim of this study was to study the relationships between cognitive and functional capacity versus oral health and treatment need and to compare oral status assessments and oral treatment need, assessed by nurses and dental professionals, respectively.

DESIGN: Cross-sectional survey.

SETTING: Nursing home.

SUBJECTS: One hundred and ninety-two nursing home residents were examined in 1997.

MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: Cognitive and functional capacity in different groups of residents regarding oral health and treatment need, measured by a comprehensive assessment with the Resident Assessment Instrument (RAI) and dental status in a separate examination protocol, recorded by a dentist.

RESULTS: There was a significant correlation between being dentate and having need of oral treatment. Those who were able to chew also had significantly better cognitive and functional capacity. Oral treatment need was identified most often by the dentist, intermediately by the RAI assessment and least frequently by the residents themselves.

CONCLUSIONS: Being dentate and having a loss of cognitive and functional capacity is predictive of oral treatment need among nursing home residents. Enhanced interaction between nurses and dental professionals needs to be promoted for better awareness of preventive measures and better regular oral care for frail and dependent elderly persons.