MOUTh - Unique Technique Improves Dental Hygiene in Dementia Patients
Dementia is a condition that causes a loss of brain function that occurs with certain diseases. A person suffering from dementia is affected in many ways from memory loss, thinking abilities, language, judgement and also in behavior. These patients tend to resist care when they feel threatened. They are also unable to care for themselves and need help.
Nursing a person suffering from dementia can be a very challenging task, especially for the nursing staff that has to take care of their oral and dental hygiene. These patients usually have very poor dental hygiene and they generally resist any kind of treatment by resorting to fight and bite as they feel threatened. To find a solution to this problem, Rita Jablonski, assistant professor of nursing at Penn State University, along with her team of nurses conducted a pilot study to come up with a unique approach to improve the dental hygiene in the patients suffering from dementia, called Managing Oral Hygiene Using Threat Reduction (MOUTh).
"We have come up with 15 strategies, techniques to help reduce threat perception," said Jablonski. "To my knowledge, we are the only nurses in the country who are looking at ways to improve the mouth care of persons with dementia, especially those who fight and bite during mouth care. Our approach is unique because we frame resistive behaviour as a reaction to a perceived threat."The techniques or strategies used by the team of nurses included actions and behavior that basically reduced the perceived threat by the patient, and this was accomplished by approaching the patients at eye level when they were seated, smiling, pantomiming and guiding the patients to perform their own care.
“The pilot study was conducted with seven people who had either moderate or severe cases of dementia. The researchers used the MOUTh technique on the subjects for two weeks, recording the state of the patients' mouths and how the patients reacted throughout the study.”
“At the beginning of the study all seven subjects had poor oral health, as determined by the Oral Health Assessment Tool. Eight categories concerning oral health are scored between zero and two. The lower the score the healthier the mouth. The average score for the subjects at the start of the study was 7.29. By the end of the study the average score was 1.00.”
The MOUTh technique may prove to be the answer to improving the dental hygiene of patients suffering from dementia, if adopted and practiced successfully by the nursing staff all over the world.
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