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Gerodontology. 2008 Jun;25(2):107-12. doi: 10.1111/j.1741-2358.2007.00212.x. Epub 2008 Mar 31.

Utilisation of dental services in a university hospital palliative and long-term care unit in Geneva.

Author information

1
Division of Gerodontology and Removable Prosthodontics, University of Geneva, Geneva, Switzerland. martin.schimmel@medecine.unige.ch

Abstract

OBJECTIVES:

Dental care plays an important role in the multidisciplinary approach, which is used in palliative and long-term care to address the complex needs of terminally ill patients. The aim of this study was to assess the utilisation of dental services in a University Hospital Palliative and Long-term Care Unit.

MATERIAL AND METHOD:

Over an observation period of 13 months, structured questionnaires were filled in after each dental appointment. The survey covered three main topics: the initiation and incentive from the dental consultation, particular difficulties because of the patient's health or the hospital's organisation as well as the accomplished treatment.

RESULTS:

Two hundred and seventy-five questionnaires from a total of 102 patients were available for analysis. The patients' median age was 83 years (SD 10.3, range 49-101 years), 63 were female, 39 male. A majority of first appointments were initiated by a physician (n = 49 of 102), mainly because of pain (n = 62 of 275). 10.5% of the appointments were cancelled on the same day. Only one-fifth of the patients were able to reach the practice on foot. Six used a walking stick and 54 relied on a wheelchair. Eighteen patients needed to be seen in their bed. The most frequently performed procedures were extractions and removal of denture sore spots (n = 67 of 275) followed by the manufacturing of new dentures (n = 38 of 275). In more than 17% of the appointments, no particular treatment was performed.

CONCLUSION:

The utilisation of dental services in terminally ill and severely compromised elderly patients shown justifies a dental service in a palliative care or geriatric hospital setting. The particular dental work profile requires a practitioner with empathy and professional experience.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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