Gnashers, chompers, pearly whites – however you refer to your teeth, it’s important to look after them, as we were all told when we were young: “You only get one set!”.
We recognise the importance of oral care, with residents encouraged to see a dentist as frequently as they would prior to moving into care, as well as in times of oral discomfort.
Smiling Matters, a recent report from the Care Quality Commission (CQC) on oral care in care homes, found that residents often express themselves by smiling (CQC, 2019). The state of a resident’s teeth, dentures or oral mucosa can have an impact on the ability to eat, as well as overall health and well-being. Research reveals that poor oral health can lead to other health conditions such as stroke, heart disease and diabetes (NHS.UK, 2019). The National Institute for Health & Care Excellence (NICE) guidelines, ‘Oral Health for Adults in Care Homes’ (2016) also recognises the need for good oral care in care homes.
The purpose of oral care is to keep the oral mucosa and lips clean, soft, moist and intact and natural teeth free from food debris; maintain denture hygiene and prevent disease associated with dentures; prevent oral infection and discomfort, and to maintain the mouth in a state of normal function (Royal Marsden, 2015).
Good oral care consists of cleaning teeth a minimum of twice a day for two minutes with fluoride toothpaste, plus cleaning between the teeth with floss. Dentures should be cleaned using a large brush and using a denture specific polish, as toothpaste is abrasive, damaging dentures.
The Avery Oral Care Policy has now been updated and includes the latest guidance on the provision of adequate dental hygiene and health. This is a key area when assessing the support of a resident that may need to be recorded in their person-centred Care Plan.
Article by Julie Spencer, Care and Quality Director, for Welcome Home Issue 11.