Dental health is important because dental disease and mouth problems are common in the nursing home and homebound population. The mouth has been called a mirror of health and disease because there you find:
- Signs of systemic diseases
- Microbial infections
- Nutritional deficiencies
Oral health and general health should not be thought of as being separate. Cardiovascular disease, diabetes, malnutrition, stroke and pneumonia are common conditions in many of the residents in nursing homes. Poor oral health can make these medical problems worse because of the increased bacteria in the mouth that can spread to other parts of the body, causing infections. Because of their compromised medical health, residents in long term care are more at risk for infections. Good oral health is important and contributes to keeping these residents as healthy as possible.
Ann Slaughter DDS, MPH
Assistant Professor Geriatric Dentistry
University of Pennsylvania School of Dental Medicine