Oral health status of long-term care residents-a vulnerable population

J Can Dent Assoc. 2012;78:c3.


Objective: To conduct an observational, cross-sectional survey of the oral health status of adults ≥ 45 years of age in rural and urban long-term care (LTC) facilities in Nova Scotia, Canada.

Methods: Residents capable of informed consent were recruited by LTC staff in a stratified random sample of LTC facilities. Calibrated personnel administered standard clinical and quality-of-life instruments.

Results: Of the 335 adults (74% female) surveyed (mean age 80.8 ± 11.6 years), only 25% reported having regular dental care. Although 76% described their oral health as good or excellent, 41% were edentulous, 41% had some mucosal abnormality, 36% reported xerostomia and 25% had perceived or self-reported untreated dental conditions. Most mandibular dentures were nonretentive (59%) and almost half were unstable (49%). Among the dentate, 51% had untreated coronal caries, 44% had untreated root caries and 67% had attachment loss of ≥ 4 mm at ≥ 1 site. Predictors of coronal decay were a debris score ≥ 2 (adjusted odds ratio [adj OR] = 2.12; p = 0.045) or a history of smoking (adj OR = 1.02 per year of smoking; p = 0.024). Predictors of root caries were participants' perceiving a need for dental treatment (adj OR = 2.56; p = 0.015) or a history of smoking (adj OR = 1.02 per year of smoking; p = 0.026).

Conclusions: This epidemiologic study of the oral health of LTC residents revealed a high prevalence of untreated oral disease and low use of oral care services, highlighting the need for better access to oral care for this population.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Health Services Accessibility
  • Humans
  • Logistic Models
  • Long-Term Care*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Mouth Diseases / epidemiology*
  • Nova Scotia / epidemiology
  • Oral Health*
  • Prevalence
  • Quality of Life
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Vulnerable Populations*