Oral Care

Aspiration is a common cause of pneumonia in clients with dementia (Gradon, 2006 as cited in Eisenstadt, 2008 ). Aspiration pneumonia has been linked to oropharyngeal and esophopharyngeal dysphagia. Oropharyngeal dysphagia is common in dementia (Eisenstadt, 2008, see the Dysphagia coupled with Dementia page for further details on this). However Langmore, et al (1998) found that aspiration pneumonia was highly associated with lack of oral care. The amount of bacteria in the oral cavity and the presence of tooth decay were associated with the incidence of aspiration pneumonia. An interesting finding was that aspiration pneumonia in clients was significantly related to being dependent on others for their oral care. For this reason oral hygiene is particularly a problem for elderly in residential care, especially if they have dementia. It is therefore important for nursing staff to ensure that clients recieve good oral care. In clients with dementia it is likely that they will be unable to maintain adequate oral care so they are reliant on nursing staff to carry this out. Oral care needs to be thorough to be effective in reducing the risk of chest infection in the event of aspiration.