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Nearly Half of Nursing Home Residents Have Insufficient Chewing Ability


February 05, 2021

Oral function was insufficient in almost half of all nursing home residents studied and was negatively linked with nutritional status and quality of life, according to findings published online in Gerodontology. 

“The oral function and nutritional status of residents with dementia,” researchers wrote, “was poorer than of those without.”

The study included 111 nursing home residents at four nursing homes in the United Kingdom. Among the participants, 84 had dementia, 27 did not have dementia, and all were 65 years or older. The nursing homes had either “good” or “excellent” quality ratings.

Objective chewing ability was insufficient in nearly half of participants, according to the study. Subjective quality of chewing was considered moderate or bad in 47.4% of residents. 

Residents with dementia had a median 14 teeth compared with 22 in residents without dementia, researchers reported. They also had fewer occlusal units and poorer functional categories. The median number of occlusal units was 0 among residents with dementia compared with 4 for residents without dementia. 

Nutritional status, too, was poorer in residents with dementia than in than those without dementia. Although both groups were at risk of malnutrition according to their Mini Nutritional Assessment Short Form scores, the average score for residents without dementia was 10.4 compared with an average 8.3 for those with dementia. Scores between 8 and 11 points indicate a risk of malnutrition, the authors explained. 

“Both oral function status and nutritional status were poorer in residents with dementia than in those without, and poor nutritional status was associated with poor oral function and orofacial pain,” researchers wrote. “These results highlight the need for routine dental care in nursing home residents, to maintain sufficient chewing ability and treat possible pain causing oral health problems.”

Jolynn Tumolo

Reference:

van de Rijt LJM, Feast AR, Vickerstaff V, Sampson EL, Lobbezoo F. Oral function and its association with nutrition and quality of life in nursing home residents with and without dementia: A cross-sectional study [published online ahead of print, 2021 Jan 31]. Gerodontology. 2021;10.1111/ger.12535. doi:10.1111/ger.12535

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