How would you feel if you were unable to brush your teeth or receive any oral care for 2 whole weeks?
Dr Christoffer Van Tulleken, recently carried out this experiment for a new two-part BBC series showing the implications of poor dental hygiene, conducted with Professor Iain Chapple, at the University of Birmingham School of Dentistry.
Dr Tulleken commented: At the end of this time, I brushed my teeth and my gums bled; I had developed mild gum disease. Carry on like this and not treat the problem and I could lose some teeth.’ Further tests showed that he had also damaged his immune system.
‘Gum disease isn't just bad for your teeth; it shortens your life - simple as that. So, looking after your teeth is one of the most important health interventions you can make’ he concluded. And there's mounting evidence that shows an association between poor dental hygiene and a wide variety of illnesses including dementia, pneumonia, diabetes, kidney and heart disease and cancer.
Oral care for adults in care homes
Vulnerable adults are often unable to take proper care of their teeth due to overall weakness or problems like arthritis or impairment of memory, anxiety behaviour, sleep disturbance, depression, and disorientation.
Sometimes they can overlook dental problems because of other more demanding health problems. In such cases it is essential for family members and carers to watch out for symptoms. Weak or loss of teeth also means difficulty in eating leading to lack of nutrition and weight loss.
Adults in residential care are at considerable risk of oral infection, with infection identified in 80% of one study population.
Why good oral care is so important Continue reading