Poor Oral Health in Nursing Homes

Lexington, KY – Studies show 80 percent of Kentucky nursing home residents have inadequate oral health. University of Kentucky professor Pam Stein adds there's a definite link between good dental health and good overall health. Stein says the elderly with chronic gum diseases are more susceptible to strokes, heart disease and kidney failure.

"You have a lot of plaque and bacteria in your mouth and then you have to be intibated what happens is you actually inoculate the lower respiratory system with all that plaque or bacteria and then you have pneumonia and pneumonia is actually a significant source of fatality in nursing homes."

A group called "Kentuckians for Nursing Home Reform" wants to better educate nursing assistants on the importance of oral hygiene. They hope to fund the effort with federal stimulus dollars.