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Steps for Examining the Oral Cavity in Elderly Patients With Dentures


Annals of Long-Term Care: Clinical Care and Aging. 2014;22(3):43-44.


Raza Haque, MD, Division of Geriatrics, Department of Family Medicine, Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI

Danielle Watkins, DO, Family Medicine Residency Program, Sparrow Hospital, East Lansing, MI

Although oral health is known to be an important factor for optimal health and wellbeing for all older adults, it is often overlooked, placing this vulnerable population at risk for a variety of oral diseases (eg, periodontal disease) and systemic diseases (eg, cardiovascular disease, pneumonia). In many cases, it is assumed that dental health professionals are tending to the oral care needs of these patients; however, many older patients do not have dental insurance and do not seek care. This tip sheet, which can be downloaded as a PDF by clicking the image, takes healthcare professionals working in long-term care through the process of examining and identifying problems in the oral cavity. 

Ideally, these screenings should be conducted in individuals who have their natural teeth, as well as those wearing removable dental devices (eg, full dentures, partial dentures), as these devices may lead to a false sense of security that the patient is receiving regular oral care. In addition, these devices can cause changes to the oral environment and tissues,  particularly if they are not used correctly, placing these individuals at increased risk of various complications if the changes are not caught early.

See related article by Haque and Watkins, "Mastication-Associated Rhinorrhea: Importance of Oral Cavity Examinations in Elderly Patients Wearing Removable Devices."


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