A new Tasmanian trial has revealed that the age-old moniker of “brush your teeth twice a day or they will rot away” certainly does ring true, particularly for residents in aged-care.
A trial was conducted across two aged-care facilities in Northern Tasmania that were known for their high rate of chest infections. Residents who have dementia are often least inclined to brush due to their declining mental ability to take the process into their own hands, and due to the care and support staff overlooking its importance as their day is filled with other priorities. The hypothesis was that a lack of brushing of teeth has led to an increased rate of infection.
These particular residents had their teeth cleaned twice daily for two minutes at a time, and their dentures were cleaned once a day.
Before the trial, there were 19 cases of infection over 6 months, and with the trial implemented, the following 6 months saw only 7 cases.
With results like this, it is highly important for frontline staff to understand the importance of brushing teeth as it leads to much better health outcomes for residents. Care and support staff should not be blamed as they are miseducated about the importance of this process, rather than deliberate negligence, and are pulled in many directions all throughout the day.
The trial also showed a 57% reduction in dental bookings from residents.