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News Americas

Often, little attention is given to the oral health of hospitalized patients. (Photograph: TheTun/Shutterstock)
0 Comments Aug 18, 2014 | News Americas

Hospitalizations may spur deterioration of oral health

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TERESINA, Brazil/ BORDEAUX, France: A new study has provided evidence that oral health deteriorates during hospital stays even after a short period. The researchers discovered a significant increase in periodontal disease and levels of dental plaque in patients who were hospitalized for two weeks. The findings indicate that oral health is largely overlooked in hospitals.

In the study, titled "Oral Health of Patients Under Short Hospitalization Period: Observational Study," which was published in the June issue of the Journal of Clinical Periodontology, researchers at the Federal University of Piauí in Brazil measured plaque and gingival indices in 162 elderly patients on their day of admission and at up to 14 days in hospital. They found that scores for both indices increased significantly during the stay.

The findings corroborate the results of another study, published online in the Gerodontology journal, on the oral health of 159 hospitalized elderly patients conducted in France, which found that poor oral health was strongly associated with malnutrition. The researchers found that over 140 patients needed dental treatment. They also found that 77 patients were malnourished, which was partly attributed to candidiasis and reduced salivary flow.

In the challenging hospital environment, oral health is often given little priority. The findings of the studies demonstrate that proper oral care regimes have to be implemented in hospitals. In addition, there appears to be a need for better food choices, as hospital meals are often inappropriate to the needs of the patient.

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