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Are my parent's dental needs met in a nursing home?

Kynthia James
Critical Care Nursing
When your parent is in the nursing home it is important that all medical needs are met including dental. There may not be dental services on site but there are transportation services that are available to transport the residents to dental appointments so that they can get the dental care that is needed. It is important that you advocate for these services for your family.
Ms. Kathryne A. LeMieux
Neonatal-Perinatal Medicine
Supervision of your parent's care can not be emphasized enough! Patients in any environment must be proactive, have a questioning attitude, and demand expert answers to concerns and questions. Nursing home residents often are unable to advocate for their own best care. I encourage my own parents (in their late 70's and independent), to ask their provider lots of questions including why they are continuing on certain medications. They don't want the doctor to feel disrespected or infer they don't trust them, and strongly feel they must follow "orders" or suffer the consequences of a spoiled relationship with their health care provider. This is typical of elders and doesn't take into account Alzheimer's or common mentation changes in the elderly. Be an advocate for them! Check their toenails while you're at it! Condition of toenails can tell you a lot about your family and friend's care while in a nursing unit or assisted living home. 

Every nursing home is different when it comes to oral care. That's why it's important for you to do a little research when it comes to selecting a nursing home for you or someone you love. For instance, some nursing homes schedule dentists and dental teams to come and provide care on the premises. In other cases, you may need to arrange visits yourself or may need to drive your loved one to the office. The most important thing to keep in mind as we get older is that good dental care still matters. 

Nursing homes and assisted living facilities may or may not have some sort of oral health programs. Ask your parent's care facility what oral health care they offer, you may need to help your mother get the dental health care she needs and deserves. Poor oral health has been reported for elderly patients in nursing homes and assisted living facilities across the nation and world.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.