Nursing home residents are often unable to carry out proper oral care, which is an important factor in maintaining the health of the mouth, teeth, and gums. Nursing home staff may not be prepared to provide adequate care. Therefore, oral health care education for residents and/or nursing staff may be one strategy to improve this situation.
What was the research?
A systematic review to examine the evidence about the effectiveness of oral health education for nursing staff or nursing home residents compared to usual care for improving residents’ oral health.
Who conducted the research?
The research was conducted by a team led by Martina Albrecht, from the University of Hamburg, on behalf of Cochrane Oral Health. Ramona Kupfer, Daniel R. Reissmann, Ingrid Mulhauser and Sascha Kopke were also on the team.
What evidence was included in the review?
We searched for relevant studies that had been conducted up until January 2016 and identified nine trials involving a total of 3253 nursing home residents. The average age of residents across the studies ranged from 78 to 86 years. In all of the studies most of the people taking part had dentures (between 62% and 87%). The trials evaluated a variety of approaches including educational programmes, skills training, and written information material. Topics included dental issues that were particularly relevant for older people such as care of dentures and covered dental and oral diseases, prevention of oral diseases, dental hygiene tools, and oral health care guidelines. The length of the trials ranged from three months to five years.
What did the evidence say?
We could not identify a clear benefit of training of nurses and/or residents on residents’ dental health as assessed by dental and denture plaque. No study assessed oral health, oral health-related quality of life or adverse events. As education programmes were not fully described, results do not allow for clear conclusions about the effectiveness or potential harm of specific oral health education interventions in nursing homes.
How good was the evidence?
Overall, there was a low quality of information from the studies regarding all of the results. We conclude that there is a need for clinical trials to investigate the advantages and harms of oral health educational programmes in nursing homes.
What are the implications for dentists and the general public?
It is unclear at present which kind of oral healthcare education programme should be implemented and if nursing homes can expect positive effects from the implementation of such a programme.
What should researchers look at in the future?
There is a need for further trials to determine whether oral health educational interventions for nursing home staff and residents are effective, especially on residents’ oral health-related quality of life and oral health, as well as residents’ and staff knowledge and attitude. Future trials need to be rigorous in design and delivery with adequate reporting including detailed descriptions of participants, setting, intervention and control conditions.
Albrecht M, Kupfer R, Reissmann DR, Mühlhauser I, Köpke S. Oral health educational interventions for nursing home staff and residents. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2016, Issue 9. Art. No.: CD010535. DOI: 10.1002/14651858.CD010535.pub2.
This post is an extended version of the review’s plain language summary, compiled by Anne Littlewood at the Cochrane Oral Health Editorial Base.