Dental Care for Nursing Home Residents

When a family places their elderly loved one in a nursing home, their expectation is that their parent will be well taken care of. And many times this is the case, but not every nursing home is equal in quality. Though the facility at which your loved one resides may have a medical staff, it may not be sufficient to adequately treat all of the residents in a timely manner. And though they may have an in-house doctor or nurse, they may not have a dentist. Dental services may be provided by a dentist on call. However, if an oral healthcare condition develops between checkups, it may be left undetected. As a result, the elder’s condition may worsen and cause great pain, or a life-threatening infection. Additional and costly medical care may be necessary in order to treat a condition that originally was only minor and could have been easily treated.

If your loved one was harmed because of negligent care, you may have grounds for a personal injury claim. If your loved one was harmed because of the treatment provided by the nursing home’s dentist, you may have grounds for a medical malpractice claim. If either of these scenarios may describe how your elder was harmed, contact a lawyer without delay.

Common Dental Conditions

Regular and consistent dental care is imperative in order to maintain optimum oral health. This is true for people of all ages. Even elders who may have supplemental dentures, they still need regular checkups and cleanings. There is a long list of oral healthcare conditions that may develop if routine care is not provided to the nursing home resident. Some are more serious than others. It’s important to note any symptoms reported to you by your loved one as even the most serious conditions may present as nothing to worry much about. Should the nursing home dentist appear to be less than competent, or is unresponsive to your loved one’s symptoms, you may need to take your elder to a dental practice of your choosing.

Here are several examples of dental conditions that may develop if proper oral healthcare is not provided to a nursing home resident:

  • Tooth decay. Often referred to simply as cavities, it is considered an oral healthcare disease. It develops when plaque forms on a tooth and comes into contact with sugars or starches from food. The resulting acid that forms will destroy the tooth enamel. Certain medications can lead to cavities, and one that your elder is taking could cause this condition as a side effect. If this is the case, their doctor may approve an alternate medication if your elder’s dentist confirms it is to blame.
  • Gum disease. Often referred to as periodontal disease, it is a gum infection in the areas surrounding the teeth. Gum disease is one of the biggest reasons why adults experience tooth loss. Symptoms include sensitive teeth, pain associated with chewing food, bad breath, gums that bleed or are red, tender, or swollen.

Provide your loved one with the care they need by ensuring that their nursing home is providing regular and consistent dental care. If your loved one is not getting the care they should be, a nursing home lawyer in Memphis, TN can help.

Thanks to Darrell Castle & Associates for their insight into nursing home law and dental care for nursing home residents.