The association of frailty with oral cleaning habits and oral hygiene among elderly home care clients.Scand J Caring Sci. 2019 Dec 17 [Online ahead of print]SJ
Increasing numbers of frail elderly people living at home but dependent on supportive care will face complex oral health challenges.
To investigate the associations of frailty status with oral cleaning habits and oral hygiene taking into account the effects of preventive oral health intervention among home care clients aged 75 or over.
Data were gathered by interviews and clinical oral examinations at baseline and after a 6-month follow-up. Frailty status was evaluated at baseline using the abbreviated comprehensive geriatric assessment (aCGA) scale, which consists of 15 questions from three different domains: cognitive status, functional status and depression. A total of 231 home care clients completed the aCGA at baseline and the interview and clinical oral examination both at baseline and after the follow-up.
Using the aCGA classification with at least one score in the ≥2 domain, 62% of clients were classified as frail at baseline. They had poorer oral cleaning habits and hygiene, and they had lost more teeth than nonfrail participants. Multivariate analysis showed that being frail at baseline was statistically significantly associated with a lower frequency of toothbrushing and denture cleaning (OR = 0.4, 95% CI = 0.1-0.9 and OR = 0.3, 95% CI = 0.1-0.8) at baseline, but not after the follow-up. Membership in the intervention group was associated with better oral cleaning at the follow-up. However, among the frail participants, toothbrushing frequency was still significantly lower and oral hygiene poorer than among the nonfrail group.
Oral cleaning habits of frail elderly people were slightly improved as a result of external support, which had a positive effect on oral hygiene. Individual preventive actions in the context of oral health and hygiene should be integrated into the daily care plan of home care clients with the first signs of frailty.