• institutionalised hospital care;
  • oral health;
  • oral cleanliness;
  • treatment needs

Objectives:  To determine the oral health and treatment needs of the long-term hospitalised elderly.

Setting:  The Laakso long-term hospital, Helsinki, Finland.

Design:  A cross-sectional study with clinical oral examinations.

Subjects:  All long-term patients (n = 260) aged 60 and older.

Main outcome measures:  Edentulousness, presence and hygiene of dentures, mucosal findings, number of teeth, functioning teeth and tooth remnants, level of dental hygiene, and need for operative treatment.

Results:  Subjects’ mean age was 83.3 years (SD = 8.1); 42% were edentulous, 45% of women and 33% of men (p = 0.12). With no gender difference, 41% had removable dentures, but one in four were considered to be in need of repair or replacement. Denture hygiene was good in 19%, moderate in 44%, and poor in 37%, and for men worse than for women (p = 0.02). Stomatitis was found in 25%, and angular cheilitis in 28% of the denture wearers. The dentate subjects had on average 12.4 (SD = 8.6) teeth with a clear difference by age (p = 0.03), but no difference by gender. Dental hygiene was considered poor. Of the dentate subjects, 37% were in need of restorations, 51% of periodontal therapy and 42% of extractions.

Conclusions:  Oral cleanliness should be improved with regards to dentures and teeth. More attention should be focused on dental care of the long-term hospitalised elderly.