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.