Better Oral Health in Residential Care: Oral Health Care Plan
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The second step to help maintain a resident's oral health is oral health care planning. The outcome of the oral health assessment will help inform the care planning process.
Residents, particularly those with dementia, are at high risk of poor oral health. The provision of oral health care in the residential aged care setting has a strong focus on quality of life and treatment to relieve symptoms rather than curing oral disease.
A targeted approach to oral health care is taken to protect residents against further deterioration of their oral health status. This includes the use of dental products such as high fluoride toothpaste and antibacterial products.
Residents, especially those with dementia, can behave in ways that makes it difficult for aged care staff to provide oral health care.
Recommended strategies for managing changed behaviours include:
The protective oral hygiene care regimen aims to maintain the best possible oral health and provide comfort to the resident. This regimen and additional treatments as prescribed by a GP and/or a dentist can be implemented to the end of life. At the end stages, modified oral hygiene aids and modified oral care application techniques can help aged care staff to maintain a resident’s oral comfort.
Oral swabs are frequently used in palliative care. They are useful for applying products to treat oral infection. Gentle brushing with a soft or very soft brush, with aged care staff using a backward bent toothbrush to access the mouth, may be more effective than swabs at removing dental plaque.
Discomfort from dry mouth is common at the end stages of life. Dry mouth products are more therapeutic than moistened swabs to hydrate the mouth.
Solutions or substances with a pH lower than 5.5 (acid condition) are not recommended as they can irritate the mouth and cause pain. Similarly, citric substances such as lemon may increase the sensation of dry mouth. Products with alcohol as an ingredient should be avoided as they can also contribute to dry mouth and damage oral tissue.
Oral Health Care Planning Guidelines (PDF 897KB) provides a concise description of the rationale and oral care recommendations for the standard protective oral care regimen, additional oral care management, oral care and changed behaviour and palliative care considerations.