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Many Long-Term Care Patients Refuse Oral Health Services


The perception that if you don’t have pain, you don’t have a problem appears to apply to patients at long-term care facilities, according to University at Buffalo (UB) researchers, who report that nearly 90% of patients at nursing homes or assisted living facilities don’t take advantage of dental services, even when they are free. Published in Special Care in Dentistry, the study found that the longer patients stayed at long-term care facilities, the more likely they were to use dental services.

Researchers examined the dental and medical records of more than 2500 residents at the Brothers of Mercy Nursing and Rehabilitation Center in Clarence, New York, who were discharged between 2008 and 2012. Utilization rates of dental services ranged from 7% for patients who stayed less than a month to 30% for those who stayed between a month and two years. Usage rates increased to 55% among those who stayed beyond two years.

In addition to length of stay, age and the condition being treated also appear to be factors. Compared to their younger counterparts, patients who were 76 or older were twice as likely to use dental services. In addition, the authors report that patients with endocrine, nutritional, metabolic, immunity disorders, mental disorders and circulatory system diseases ranked among the most likely to receive dental services.

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