Especially among residents of long term care facilities, oral health affects general health:
- Many medications leave the resident more susceptible to oral bacteria and infection.
- Bacteria from gum infections can increase the development of the plaques that cause strokes and heart attacks.
- Breathing in the bacteria from gum infections is a significant risk factor in contracting pneumonia.
- Estimates of the percentage of long term care residents with unmet dental needs range from 80% to 96% – with up to 78% having untreated tooth decay and 40% with periodontal disease.
- Oral cancer kills more people each year than cervical cancer and skin cancer combined. The older a person is, the more susceptible they are to oral cancer. Dental examinations can help to detect oral cancer.
- Long term care residents may have trouble communicating the source of pain, resulting in a failure to diagnose oral issues by the facility staff.