Oral health and dental care of elderly adults dependent on care

Swiss Dent J. 2015;125(4):417-26. doi: 10.61872/sdj-2015-04-01.


The increase in life expectancy in Switzerland is posing new challenges, as more and more people are becoming dependent on care, both at home and in long-term care facilities. The dental profession must deal with patients retaining their own teeth until later in life with an increased incidence and severity of caries and periodontal diseases. The association between general and oral health is becoming important, particularly in older people with medical conditions. Aspiration pneumonia can develop as a result of pathogenic bacteria descending from the oral cavity to the bronchoalveolar system, which presents a frequent, potentially life-threatening danger. By adapting care and treatment concepts, the masticatory ability can be preserved or restored, which in turn helps preventing malnutrition. Other aims include preventing infections as well as maintaining subjective well-being and an attractive dental appearance. Care standards should be defined for the provision of oral-health related dentistry for the vulnerable population of the care-dependent adults. These should be implemented by an interdisciplinary care team composed of nursing personnel, long-term care facility managers, Spitex staff, physicians, dentists as well as dental assistants and hygienists.