Dental services are underused in nursing homes

Residents at long term care facilities often will not go to the dentist even when it’s free.

A University of Buffalo study reviewed dental and medical records of over 2,500 residents at a nursing and rehabilitation center. Only 10 percent of them got a dental examination while in the facility.

The State of New York requires long term care facilities to offer dental services at admission and yearly during a patient’s stay.

For the patients in the study, the average length of stay was two years, but almost half of them were there for less than a month. Among patients who stayed less than a month, only 7 percent took advantage of available dental services. Use of the dentists rose to 30 percent among those who stayed a month to two years, and to 55 percent for those who stayed longer than two years.

Involved family members could encourage residents to get a dental checkup. For more information on paying for nursing home costs, see Who Pays for Long Term Care at Guide To Long Term Care.

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