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J Can Dent Assoc. 2002 Jun;68(6):359-63.

Elderly Canadians residing in long-term care hospitals: Part II. Dental caries status.

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



Dental caries has 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 document the caries status of elderly dentate residents of intermediate and extended LTC hospitals in Vancouver and surrounding communities.


A dentist examined the teeth of 369 elderly dentate hospital residents (coronal and root surfaces) for caries. The medical, dietary, oral microbial, oral hygiene and dental status of the same subjects are documented and discussed in a companion article.


Two hundred and ninety (78.6%) of the subjects had at least one carious lesion; 186 (50.4%) had coronal caries and 254 (68.8%) had root caries. On average, each subject had 3.8 carious teeth. The residents of extended LTC hospitals had significantly more carious coronal surfaces. Lactobacillus scores were correlated with the DMFS (decayed, missing, filled surfaces), the number of carious coronal lesions, the number of carious surfaces and the plaque index, but Streptococcus mutans scores were correlated only with DMFT (decayed, missing, filled teeth).


Overall, the prevalence of dental caries among the elderly residents of LTC hospitals in this study was high, although almost half of the subjects had visited community dentists within the previous 5 years. Caries prevention strategies (specifically diet, oral hygiene and antimicrobial agents) rather than treatment alone may be needed to control caries in this susceptible population.

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