Effects of 11-month interventions on oral cleanliness among the long-term hospitalised elderly


Petteri Peltola, Social and Health Services, PO Box 202, 02070 Espoo kaupunki, Finland.
Tel.: +358 50 3757298
Fax: +358 9 81623790
E-mail: petteri.peltola@espoo.fi


Objectives:  This trial studied the effects of interventions on the oral cleanliness of the long-term hospitalised elderly.

Background:  Oral cleanliness is mostly poor in long-term facilities. While many agree on the importance of oral hygiene education for nursing personnel, little information and agreement exists on how to organise this education in geriatric institutions.

Materials and methods:  This is a longitudinal study with interventions. After a baseline clinical examination, the patient wards were divided into three groups (A, B and C) and the type of intervention was randomly assigned. In group A, dental hygienists provided oral hygiene measures for the subjects once every 3 weeks. In group B, the nursing staff first received hands-on instructions after which they assumed responsibility for the subjects’ daily oral hygiene. Group C served as a control. Denture hygiene and dental hygiene were recorded at baseline and in the end of the 11-month study period. In total, 130 subjects completed the interventions; their mean age was 82.9 years.

Results:  The best outcome in both denture and dental hygiene occurred when nursing staff at the wards took care of hygiene (group B). The increase in the proportion of those with good denture hygiene was the most prominent in group B (from 11% to 56%). The proportion of subjects with poor overall dental hygiene decreased from 61% at baseline to 57% in the end, for group B from 80% to 48%.

Conclusions:  Organised oral health education of the nursing staff should receive more attention.