35% of the elderly in long term care suffer from oral health problems which can lead to malnutrition. Oral health problems include chewing and swallowing problems, decreased taste, risk of aspiration and even death. Detecting oral health problems related to the ability to eat in time can prevent deterioration of the nutritional status of this population. Oral health among the elderly in general and among patients in geriatric hospitals in particular is poor.
The nutrition focused oral health examination (NFOE) is one of five domains in the nutritional assessment performed by the dieticians. In Israel, dieticians were not trained to perform a NFOE. Prof Riva Touger- Decker from Rutgers University New Jersey who developed the model and training of NFOE conducted three international courses for one hundred and forty dieticians in Israel, mainly working in Geriatric hospitals. The training was followed by five supervision sessions in small groups across the country. We are about to produce an internet movie demonstrating the examination on a patient for dieticians.
The NFOE led to improved communication and coordination among the multi-disciplinary staff. Main results observed as a result of the process:
Oral health assessment by dieticians in Geriatric hospitals, harnesses the multi-professional team to the subject, leading to improved nutritional status of the elderly, quality of life and improved enjoyment of eating. There is room to expand this issue among patients in general hospitals and among chronically ill patients in hospitals and in the community.
Dental health among older Israeli adults: is this a reflection of a medical care model inadequately addressing oral health?