INTRODUCTION: good oral hygiene is important for eating, talking and improved quality of life, and is part of basic patient care, but there are few observational studies in hospitalised older patients. The aim of this study is to investigate dental plaque load in older patients over time in hospital.
METHODS: we examined the mouths of 93 patients with lower limb fracture prospectively at day 1, 7 and 14 after admission in a Newcastle upon Tyne Hospital. We assessed dental and denture plaque load, dry mouth symptoms and tooth number, along with demographic and frailty variables. We used univariate generalised linear modelling and mixed effects models to investigate associations between increased plaque and patient characteristics.
RESULTS: in dentate patients, plaque score increased with time in hospital (P = 0.007, odds ratio (OR): 1.02; 95% confidence of interval (CI): 1.01-1.04). Frailty (P = 0.015, OR: 1.19; 95% CI: 1.04-1.37), dementia (P < 0.001, OR: 4.30; 95% CI: 2.03-9.12), residence in an institution (P < 0.001, OR: 4.61; 95% CI: 2.18-9.74), decreased mobility (P = 0.013, OR: 0.97; 95% CI: 0.96-0.99), but not Charlson comorbidity index (P = 0.102, OR: 1.08; 95% CI: 0.99-1.19), were associated with increased plaque scores at every time point.
CONCLUSIONS: oral hygiene deteriorated in dentate patients in hospital. Plaque scores were significantly higher in patients who were more likely to be dependent on others for their oral hygiene.