The problem of dental neglect and high levels of unmet dental needs among elderly residents of long term care facilities has been widely documented in literature. A survey was conducted of 1063 residents in 31 nursing homes throughout Washington (representing 11% of all facilities in the state). The greatest single need among dentate elderly was for routine oral hygiene (72%), while for denture wearers adjustment of loose dentures was the primary need (46.4%). Periodontal problems were slightly more prevalent than root caries (43% and 36% respectively) among dentate elderly. Dry mouth was found in 10% of residents. Oral conditions were worse in larger facilities located in rural and moderate size communities, and those under a proprietary corporation. These results suggest that daily oral hygiene and regular check-ups by a dental professional are most needed by frail elderly, especially in large, proprietary homes in rural and moderate size communities. Education of nursing home staff and the elderly themselves in the importance and methods of home care are also critical needs.