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Oral health screenings recommended for elderly
Updated: 8/13/2008 12:00:39 PM

Requiring nursing home residents to undergo regular oral health checks can help improve their general wellness, an expert has said.

Dentist Kristin Outlan told Gilbert Guide that an increased focus on preventative dentistry in these facilities can enhance patients' overall health, McKnight's Long-Term Care News reports.

She described how the elderly can suffer from infections as a result of broken or poorly fitted dentures, while other problems relating to dental deterioration may go unchecked for long periods, particularly if the patient has difficulties with speaking.

Outlan, who treats a number of patients in nursing homes, suggested that proper training of certified nursing assistants to provide straightforward geriatric dental care is "the first line of defense."

"It's not fancy dentistry. Ensuring that aides are cleaning dentures properly is a part of basic oral care," she explained.

About 23 percent of Americans aged between 65 and 74 suffer from severe gum disease, according to the Center for Disease Control.
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