A Minneapolis Star Tribune article today reports on the prevalence of poor dental care in nursing homes. The article reveals that nursing home residents “suffer from cavities, gum disease and cracked teeth, in part because their mouths are not kept clean.” The report warns: “While residents now require more dental care than in the past, nursing home employees are rarely prepared to provide it.”
The Star Tribune article quotes the head of Boston University’s department of general dentistry, who advises: “I always say you can measure quality in a nursing home by looking in people’s mouths, because it’s one of the last things to be taken care of.”
This lack of needed dental care is significant, and fatal. New studies indicate that this problem might be contributing to pneumonia, a leading killer of the institutionalized elderly. The Star Tribune article reports that “Roughly one in 10 cases of death from pneumonia in nursing home residents could be prevented by improving oral hygiene, according to a 2008 systematic review published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society.”
One dentist who treats nursing home residents warns that the lack of daily oral care in nursing facilities is “an epidemic that’s almost universally overlooked.”
In one recent case handled by the Kosieradzki Smith Law Firm, nursing aides admitted under oath that they did not have the time to provide basic cares — like brushing teeth — for their residents because the nursing home did not provide enough staff. The nursing aides confessed under oath that they nevertheless charted that the care was provided because their supervisors insisted on it.
The Kosieradzki • Smith Law Firm represents clients in cases involving catastrophic injury caused by nursing homes and other care facilities that fail to provide proper care. If you believe your loved one has been harmed due neglect or abuse in a nursing home, take action and contact the Kosieradzki • Smith Law Firm online or call us toll-free at (877) 552-2873 to set up a no-cost, no-obligation consultation.