The importance of oral health in long-term care

J Am Med Dir Assoc. 2009 Nov;10(9):667-71. doi: 10.1016/j.jamda.2009.01.002. Epub 2009 Jun 28.


Emerging evidence has shown a strong link between the effects of chronic oral inflammation and general health. The mouth is the visible gateway to the rest of the body and reflects what is happening deep inside. Periodontal disease has been linked to systemic disease; likewise, systemic disease can have an impact on oral health. In fact, there are over 100 systemic diseases that have oral manifestations, such as cardiovascular disease, stroke, respiratory infections, pancreatic cancer, diabetes, and nutritional problems. This is a bidirectional relationship and the link is inflammation. Oral health problems can have an adverse effect on the quality of life and are more prevalent in older adults, but are not caused by aging. Approximately 75% of baby boomers will enter long-term care facilities with the majority of their natural teeth and this trend is expected to continue. Studies indicate that residents with good oral care require less health care dollar expenditures. Therefore, dental professionals, such as the dental hygienist, should be part of the multidisciplinary team to assist in providing expert regular dental care and training to caregivers and other health care professionals in long-term care facilities.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Dental Care for Aged / standards
  • Female
  • Homes for the Aged
  • Humans
  • Long-Term Care / standards*
  • Male
  • Nursing Homes*
  • Oral Health / standards*
  • Periodontal Diseases / prevention & control
  • Periodontal Diseases / therapy*
  • Practice Guidelines as Topic
  • Quality of Health Care
  • Risk Assessment
  • Treatment Outcome
  • United States