Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Dirty mouths lead to broken hearts

Date:
May 5, 2011
Source:
Penn State
Summary:
Nurses who care for patients with dementia now have a tailored approach to dental hygiene for their charges, thanks to a pilot study by a team of nurses.

Rita Jablonski, assistant professor of nursing, Penn State, demonstrates how to use the Managing Oral Hygiene Using Threat Reduction method on an actor, while inserting dentures.
Credit: Gene Maylock, copyright 2008 Penn State School of Nursing/Center for Excellence in Geriatric Nursing

Nurses who care for patients with dementia now have a tailored approach to dental hygiene for their charges, thanks to a pilot study by a team of nurses.

Related Articles


"Poor oral health can lead to pneumonia and cardiovascular disease as well as periodontal disease," said Rita A. Jablonski, even though these illnesses are not usually associated with the mouth. According to Jablonski, assistant professor of nursing, Penn State, persons with dementia resist care when they feel threatened. In general, these patients cannot care for themselves and need help.

Jablonski and her team introduced an oral hygiene approach called Managing Oral Hygiene Using Threat Reduction (MOUTh) specifically for dementia patients. Many of their strategies focus on making the patient feel more comfortable before and while care is provided, the researchers report in the current issue of Special Care in Dentistry.

"We have come up with 15 strategies -- techniques to help reduce threat perception," said Jablonski. These strategies include approaching patients at eye level if they are seated, smiling while interacting, pantomiming, and guiding patients to perform their own care by placing a hand over the patient's hand and leading.

People with dementia are often no longer able to distinguish low or non-threatening situations from highly threatening situations. This happens when the parts of the brain that control threat perception -- particularly the fight, flight or freeze responses -- begin to deteriorate. The amygdala is the part of the brain that houses the fear response. The hippocampus and cerebral cortex receive and send messages to the amygdala, telling it how to react.

"Think of the hippocampus, cerebral cortex and amygdala as being in the woods," said Jablonski. "In a person with dementia, the path in the woods is blocked with tumbleweeds and the message from the cortex and hippocampus can't get to the amygdala." In turn, patients with dementia often react to something as intimate as a nurse brushing their teeth as a perceived threat.

In the past 30 years the number of nursing-home residents who still have their own teeth has risen significantly. Many of these people need assistance with their dental hygiene, as well as with other hygiene.

Jablonski and her team conducted a pilot study 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.

"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," said Jablonski. "Our approach is unique because we frame resistive behavior as a reaction to a perceived threat."

Other researchers on the project were Ann Kolanowski, Elouise Ross Eberly Professor; Mia Gabello and Alexandra Brock, graduate students, all in the school of nursing, Penn State; Barbara Therrien, associate professor in nursing, University of Michigan; and Ellen K. Mahoney, associate professor in nursing, Boston College.

The Brookdale Leadership in Aging Foundation supported this pilot study. Jablonski is the 2009-2011 Brookdale Leadership in Aging Fellow. The National Institutes of Health has awarded Jablonski a grant to continue this research.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Penn State. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Penn State. "Dirty mouths lead to broken hearts." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 5 May 2011. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/05/110501183823.htm>.
Penn State. (2011, May 5). Dirty mouths lead to broken hearts. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 24, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/05/110501183823.htm
Penn State. "Dirty mouths lead to broken hearts." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/05/110501183823.htm (accessed October 24, 2014).

Share This



More Health & Medicine News

Friday, October 24, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

IKEA Desk Converts From Standing to Sitting With One Button

IKEA Desk Converts From Standing to Sitting With One Button

Buzz60 (Oct. 24, 2014) IKEA is out with a new convertible desk that can convert from a sitting desk to a standing one with just the push of a button. Jen Markham explains. Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com
Ebola Protective Suits Being Made in China

Ebola Protective Suits Being Made in China

AFP (Oct. 24, 2014) A factory in China is busy making Ebola protective suits for healthcare workers and others fighting the spread of the virus. Duration: 00:38 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
WHO: Millions of Ebola Vaccine Doses by 2015

WHO: Millions of Ebola Vaccine Doses by 2015

AP (Oct. 24, 2014) The World Health Organization said on Friday that millions of doses of two experimental Ebola vaccines could be ready for use in 2015 and five more experimental vaccines would start being tested in March. (Oct. 24) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Doctor in NYC Quarantined With Ebola

Doctor in NYC Quarantined With Ebola

AP (Oct. 24, 2014) An emergency room doctor who recently returned to the city after treating Ebola patients in West Africa has tested positive for the virus. He's quarantined in a hospital. (Oct. 24) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins