Dental caries in Victorian nursing homes

Aust Dent J. 2014 Sep;59(3):321-8. doi: 10.1111/adj.12188. Epub 2014 Jul 22.


Background: The poor oral health of nursing home residents is the cause of substantial morbidity and has major implications relating to health care policy. The aim of this study was to measure dental caries experience in Australians living in nursing homes, and investigate associations with resident characteristics.

Methods: Clinical dental examinations were conducted on 243 residents from 19 nursing homes in Melbourne. Resident characteristics were obtained from nursing home records and interviews with residents, family and nursing home staff. Two dental examiners assessed coronal and root dental caries using standard ICDAS-II criteria.

Results: Residents were elderly, medically compromised and functionally impaired. Most required assistance with oral hygiene and professional dental care was rarely utilized. Residents had high rates of coronal and root caries, with a mean 2.8 teeth with untreated coronal caries and 5.0 root surfaces with untreated root caries. Functional impairment and irregular professional dental care were associated with higher rates of untreated tooth decay. There were no significant associations with medical conditions or the number of medications taken.

Conclusions: Nursing home residents have high levels of untreated coronal and root caries, particularly those with high needs due to functional impairment but poor access to professional services.

Keywords: Dementia; dental caries; elderly; nursing home; root caries.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Age Distribution
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Dental Caries / epidemiology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Nursing Homes / statistics & numerical data*
  • Oral Health
  • Oral Hygiene
  • Root Caries / epidemiology
  • Sex Distribution
  • Victoria / epidemiology