Oral status among seniors in nine nursing homes in Styria, Austria
Objective: To investigate the oral state in participants cared for in residences for senior citizens in Styria, Austria.
Materials and methods: Four hundred and nine participants in Styria from nine homes for senior citizens were examined employing parameters in accordance with those of Folstein’s Mini Mental Status (MMS), DMFT, basic periodontal examination, the modified oral hygiene index, pain experienced during the preceding year, the subjective and objective need for treatment, and also requirements involving surgical and prosthetic treatment. Furthermore, the habitual methods of maintaining oral hygiene were examined establishing by whom this was carried out – whether by the patient, the nurse, or by patient and nurse together.
Results: Four hundred and nine participants were examined, 48.3% were found to have retained on average 4.9 of their own teeth while 69% were fitted with dentures; however, 81% of the participants required prosthetic treatment. 28.9% of the participants had experienced acute dental pain during the preceding year and surgical treatment was found to be necessary in 47.7% of those with original teeth. Eighty-four per cent of the participants showed acute inflammation of the periodontium while the state of oral hygiene, measured on a scale of 0–4, reached an average of 2.43. Oral hygiene was carried out by the nurses in only 7.46% of the cases which showed an average MMS measurement of 18.
Conclusion: The results compared with those reported in other recent surveys and our data show an urgent need in Austria to improve the standards in dental care for the hospitalised elderly. Regular dental checks, carried out in the actual home by a dental surgeon should be introduced, whilst the nursing staff should be made fully aware of the problems caused by insufficient oral care and receive regular support from specialised oral hygiene assistants. The results of this survey also suggest that nursing staff should be equipped with simple instruments in order to judge to the extent to which the patient is capable of carrying out oral care independently and then according to the results to supplement this with additional care.