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J Can Dent Assoc. 2002 Jun;68(6):353-8.

Elderly Canadians residing in long-term care hospitals: Part I. Medical and dental status.

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Department of Oral Health Sciences, Faculty of Dentistry, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.



Oral diseases and conditions have been identified as a significant problem for elderly residents of long-term care (LTC) hospitals in developed countries, yet little recent information is available for the Canadian population.


To describe the medical, dietary, oral microbial, oral hygiene and dental status of elderly Canadians living in LTC hospitals in Vancouver and surrounding communities.


A sample of 369 elderly dentate hospital residents (mean age 83.9 years, 281 women [76.2%]) were examined, and their medical status and medications, oral status and type of hospital were documented. Oral hygiene practices and diet (specifically intake of refined carbohydrates) were evaluated. Subjects with xerostomia and subjects taking medications with hyposalivary side effects were identified, and salivary Streptococcus mutans and Lactobacillus were cultured.


The mean plaque index was 1.3; men had a higher plaque index than women and residents of extended care hospitals had a higher plaque index than those in intermediate care hospitals. The mean bacterial score per millilitre of saliva was 9.7 105 colony-forming units (CFU) for Streptococcus mutans and 1.6 105 CFU for Lactobacillus. On average, each subject had 6.3 sound teeth, and 9.3 teeth had been restored.


Although almost half of the subjects had visited a dental office in their community within the past 5 years, the elderly hospital residents in this study had few remaining teeth and suffered from poor oral hygiene. Prevention strategies (such as diet, oral hygiene and antimicrobial agents) rather than dental interventions (such as restorations and extractions) alone may be needed to control oral diseases in this susceptible population.

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