• nursing homes;
  • oral hygiene;
  • protocol

De Visschere L, de Baat C, Schols JMGA, Deschepper E, Vanobbergen J. Evaluation of the implementation of an ‘oral hygiene protocol’ in nursing homes: a 5-year longitudinal study. Community Dent Oral Epidemiol 2011; 39: 416–425. © 2011 John Wiley & Sons A/S

Abstract –  Objectives:  To explore the long-term effects of the implementation of an oral hygiene protocol in nursing homes.

Methods:  Out of 14 nursing homes (Flanders) seven nursing homes were randomly allocated to the intervention group and confirmed to implement an ‘oral hygiene protocol’. The remaining nursing homes (the control group) continued to perform oral hygiene as usual. Oral hygiene levels were scored and factors related to plaque levels were recorded. Mixed model analysis with random institution effect, were performed to explore differences in oral hygiene levels owing to the intervention, and the predictive value of explanatory variables.

Results:  At baseline, no significant differences were found between plaque levels in both study groups. In an unadjusted analysis, different effects were observed on denture and dental plaque. The lowest denture plaque levels were found 2 years after the start of the study, while the lowest dental plaque levels were found at the end of the study. The effect of the intervention could not be confirmed in an adjusted mixed model, where significant indicators for dental plaque were resident’s dependency (P < 0.01) and presence of mouth rinse (P < 0.01). Capacity of the nursing home (P < 0.05) and the presence of toothpaste (P < 0.01) were dominant influencing factors for denture plaque.

Conclusions:  After 5 years of implementation obtained plaque levels were unsatisfactory. A lot of uncertainties remained on the impact of characteristics of individual nursing homes. Obtaining adequate oral hygiene levels in nursing homes remain an important ongoing challenge and needs further research.