Friday, July 31, 2015

Palliative Treatment for Frail and Older Adults (Article 4 of 4)

The goal of palliative treatment is to enhance the quality of life during a painful episode  or for someone with a terminal illness A dentist's role could greatly enhance patient comfort and quality of life as the mouth is often the first site on pain.

  The first step in  palliative oral care is establishing good communication with the patient. With a good understanding of the patient's health circumstance, conducting a thorough oral exam  and asking for symptoms, severity and frequency is very important to determine the most bothersome issue and dealing with it promptly.

The most common oral complaint is dry mouth  If possible increase water consumption or use ice chips if choking is not a concern.. Foam swabs are helpful with providing moisture although not effective for plaque removal.  The swabs can be soaked  in warm salt water or an alcoholfree mouth rinse prior to swabbing the inside of patient's mouth.
 Daily oral hygiene is essential with modifications as needed for the palliative patient. An ultra soft  small toothbrush head can be used to promote comfort.

Candidiasis or fungal infections are common in palliative patients.  Anti fungal gels can be applied if patient cannot rinse.  Dentures can be scrubbed with soap and water and antifungal gel applied on the under surface of denture.

Preserving dignity is important part of palliative care. Maintaining a satisfactory facial appearance may be important to some patients and dentures, if needed should be made.

This concludes the series on dental care for the older adults.  Call 909 627 6699  or visit for more information.

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