Mouth conditions of older adults in nursing homes

Mouth conditions can be a sign of infection or chronic disease

The mouth is the gateway to the body. Oral conditions such as dry mouth, severe gum inflammation and suspicious soft tissue lesions can be a sign of oral diseases, or other infectious or chronic disease. In addition to the yearly dental visit, it is important for individuals, caregivers and health professionals to pay attention to these conditions and see a dentist when they are found.


 

Severe dry mouth among older adults age 65 and older living in Minnesota nursing homes, 2016

 

Source: Minnesota Department of Health, Oral Health Program. Older Adult Basic Screening Survey.

 

Data is based on an open mouth screening – the Association of State and Territorial Dental Directors (ASTDD) standardized survey. Analyzable sample size = 944 of 1,032 residents screened within a stratified random sample of 31 Minnesota Medicare or Medicaid eligible skilled nursing facilities with at least 30 beds. Dry mouth was unknown for 12 residents. See About the Data: Basic Screening Survey for Older Adults for more information.

In 2016, almost 7 percent of older adults living in Minnesota nursing homes had severe dry mouth (xerostomia). There were no significant differences in the proportion of older adults with dry mouth by sex or age group. Race and ethnicity could not be analyzed due to the low proportion of non-White or Hispanic residents in the sample.

Dry mouth is common among older adults. It can occur with certain prescription medications, cancer therapies, or diseases such as diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, and autoimmune diseases. Dry mouth can make it difficult to chew, swallow, taste and speak. It is also a risk factor for tooth decay, gum disease, infections, tooth sensitivity, and periodontal (gum) disease. Early detection and treatment is important to prevent oral diseases and improve quality of life.

To learn more visit: American Dental Association’s Oral Health Topics: Xerostomia (dry mouth)


 

Severe gum inflammation among older adults age 65 and older living in Minnesota nursing homes, 2016

 

Source: Minnesota Department of Health, Oral Health Program. Older Adult Basic Screening Survey.

 

Data is based on an open mouth screening – the Association of State and Territorial Dental Directors (ASTDD) standardized survey. Analyzable sample size = 944 of 1,032 residents screened within a stratified random sample of 31 Minnesota Medicare or Medicaid eligible skilled nursing facilities with at least 30 beds. Severe gum inflammation was not measured for 271 residents (unknown = 19 and complete tooth loss = 252). See About the Basic Screening Survey for Older Adults data for more information.

In 2016, about 7 percent of older adults in Minnesota nursing homes had severe gum (gingival) inflammation. There were no significant differences in the proportion of older adults with severe gum inflammation by sex or age group. Race and ethnicity could not be analyzed due to the low proportion of non-White or Hispanic residents in the sample.

If left untreated, severe gum inflammation can lead to periodontal (gum) disease and tooth loss.


 

Suspicious soft tissue lesion among older adults age 65 and older living in Minnesota nursing homes, 2016

 

Source: Minnesota Department of Health, Oral Health Program. Older Adult Basic Screening Survey.

 

Data is based on an open mouth screening – the Association of State and Territorial Dental Directors (ASTDD) standardized survey. Analyzable sample size = 944 of 1,032 residents screened within a stratified random sample of 31 Minnesota Medicare or Medicaid eligible skilled nursing facilities with at least 30 beds. Suspicious soft tissue lesion status was unknown for 80 residents. See About the Data: Basic Screening Survey for Older Adults for more information.

In 2016, almost 4 percent of older adults in Minnesota nursing homes had a suspicious soft tissue lesion. There were no significant differences in the proportion of older adults with soft tissue lesions by sex or age group. Race and ethnicity could not be analyzed due to the low proportion of non-White or Hispanic residents in the sample.

It is important that individuals with a suspicious soft tissue lesion see a dentist as soon as possible for diagnosis and treatment. When detected early, oral infections and cancers are more easily treated.

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