Care homes called upon to improve the oral health of patients

NICE wants care home staff to help residents brush their teeth, if needed, in order to maintain good oral health. A draft quality standard, which is currently out for consultation, calls for residents to have their oral health needs assessed on admission to care homes.

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These should then be recorded in personal health plans. The residents then need to be supported in cleaning their teeth twice daily, or their dentures once a day.

The importance of oral health routines

Professor Elizabeth Kay, of Plymouth University’s Peninsula Dental School, said that oral care was as important as assisting with personal hygiene and ensuring that residents have clean clothes to wear.

The school’s foundation dean and dental public health consultant added that helping with this ‘basic’ routine ensures that not only is oral health maintained, but that self-esteem and dignity is enhanced.

Help for care home managers

Care home managers can now access a quick guide to oral health, to help them boost oral health for adults in residential care. The guide can be read at

NICE’s deputy chief executive, Professor Gillian Leng, said that it was known that the support offered to maintain a good daily oral health regime varies hugely around the country. The draft quality standard, she said, prioritised the assessment of residents, recording in personal plans and provision of support for those people who need it.

Professor Leng said that NICE was ‘confident’ that these ‘simple measures’ have the potential to ‘substantially improve’ quality of life for residents in care homes.

Oral care in hospitals

The consultation on the draft quality standard also includes a request from NICE for people to point out evidence-based guidance which could form part of a statement about daily oral care in hospitals.

Such evidence-based information has the potential to have far-reaching, positive effects in the same way that clinical trial assistants, such as those available through, and the trials they are involved in, can hold the key to positive, widespread healthcare change.

The Age UK charity says that around 426,000 people are currently resident in care homes in Britain and an estimated 405,000 of these are aged over 65 years. The consultation on oral health in care homes and hospitals draft quality standard closes on February 3, 2017.