I've brought it up with the nursing supervisor and she says that they will do so, but it never happens. My husband is quadriplegic and unable to hold a toothbrush. He is cognitive and can speak fine.

Find Care & Housing
Too many teeth, not enough staff. Neglected dental care is typical although not acceptable.
Helpful Answer (8)
Reply to Eyerishlass

Assisting resident's with brushing their teeth is ABSOLUTELY something the nursing aides are supposed to do! But, when one CNA is tasked with getting 10 - 15 people up, dressed, toileted, to the dining room, and then feeding the ones that can't feed themselves, within a couple of hours of their shift starting, it is one of the most overlooked hygiene issues also. If you have already spoken with the Director of Nursing and/or the social service person, I would file a grievance with the social services department. This way it is brought up at the care plan meetings and the facility will try to resolve the issue because they know that state surveyors review all of the grievances filed during their annual visits. Each time you notice his teeth aren't brushed, fill out another form. The administration knows that if state sees multiple grievances from the same person on the same issue, they will get a citation from the state. Unfortunately, this will cause them to take action faster than anything else.
Helpful Answer (8)
Reply to katydid1
MargaretMcKen Dec 6, 2018
It's worth remembering that most of us like to clean our teeth first thing, but it is actually better to do it after breakfast rather than before. Surely it would make the morning shift a little easier.
Dental care isn’t covered by Medicare except in rare situations.
Most states Medicaid only cover dental care for kids within CHIP or ACA as it’s primarly preventative care via those big vans staffed by dental assistants & hygienists that go to community centers.
Its overlooked imo as there no way to bill for the time to do this service.

For NH, those pink tipped sponge swab sticks with some sort of oral hygiene embedded in them is considered acceptable level of dental oversight.

To get more than this, he is going to need MD / medical directors orders in his chart for an CNA or aide to assist in daily brushing of teeth. It will need to have to be done tied into some sort of serious health risk, like heart disease. MD order has to be in his chart for anything to be done by staff, whether it’s an OTC cream at night or brushing teeth.

For anyone reading this, if it’s looking like your folks are going to go into a facility doing a spend down on dental care is well worth it. Really if they are still ok on their ADLs and have a dentist who will see them, please have them get work done ahead of ever entering a NH. My mom had a ton of work done, like implants and full bridging & gum work done years before. It will not be cheap $$$ but will be imo and experience one of the best things to have done with their $. They will be able to have a healthier more varied diet and can actually actively eat. One surprising takeaway at one of my mom’s NH care plan meetings from the RN charge nurse was on how my mom was great in going for meals and how well she ate and that the whole process of actively eating 3 meals a day - grab flatware, cut, fork, place in mouth, chew, swallow, drink, etc - helps keep them cognitive and keeps them socialized. If they have the funds, spending on dental now will pay off later on.
Helpful Answer (7)
Reply to igloo572
bettina Dec 4, 2018
That is such a good point. Without proper dental care many seniors start
to find it too hard to eat proper meals. Or are so embarrassed about their
teeth they isolate. Being able to go to dining room, eat a full varied diet
and maintain social function is so important. I watched a relative go through that, my cousins were too cheap to help her as they wanted to "save" for
their inheritance.
I guess I take this personally, but to me it is about more than your husband's teeth. This is about his dignity. I get so angry when I think about this facility, who is getting paid to take care of your husband, and he is not given the dignity of having his teeth brushed.
Helpful Answer (6)
Reply to Karsten

as my dad had aspiration issues, the speech therapist at the SNF itself prescribed his mouth was to be swabbed out before and after meals, to help minimize risks of aspirating. Unless we were there to remind them of this, they rarely did. They should be brushing your husbands teeth. . This is not an issue of covered dental care per se, this is just basic health hygiene which they should be doing, and which you are paying for. I would talk to the DON. They do not need doctors orders to cause them to help him go to the bathroom. Nor do they need doctors orders for something as basic as brushing teeth.
Helpful Answer (5)
Reply to Karsten

Absolutely! But the reality is that this bit of caregiving tends to get pushed to the side. I knew that I needed to be vigilant about my mother's dental care after I was told that bleeding gums were normal 🙄.
Helpful Answer (4)
Reply to cwillie

One day in ICU along came the RN and a Occupational therapist to see how a managed my daily aides. They wanted me to brush my teeth and i told them they felt as though they were wearing sweaters and why were they not being cleaned. They said on admission a patient was asked if they could clean their teeth and if they said"yes" that was it. I went up one side and down the other and told them it should be in the plan of care for a seriously ill person. They both left in a hurry and another nurse arrived and got the job jone.
I do not see this as part of dental treatment tome it comes under personal care so yes Dad's teeth should be getting brushed.
Medicare does in fact cover dental cleaning at least once a hear and I think a few X-rays
Helpful Answer (4)
Reply to Veronica91

Yes, if he is quadriplegic, someone needs to be brushing his teeth after every meal.

Someone must be feeding him - they need to be doing the oral hygiene after every meal. This needs to be reported on a higher level. If it were my LO, I would be calling the board of health and asking who I need to contact.

I kept my DH at home and getting him to brush his teeth or allow me to help was like pulling teeth, pardon the pun. But I kept asking and eventually we came to an agreement.

I agree with Countrymouse - why isn't your husband asking for the assistance? As a 24/7 caregiver, sometimes things were so hectic that I didn't always think of what needed doing and I bet the nursing staff/aides are running into a similar situation.

Remember, it's the squeaky wheel that gets the grease. Your husband and you need to speak up.
Helpful Answer (4)
Reply to RayLinStephens

Record. Take photos of him smiling, show debris I teeth. Report NH to Medicare & Medicaid, and consider hiring a Nursing Home Abuse Attorney with a strong track record. It may require only one letter from him.

This is a big deal, endocarditis ( infection causing sack around heart to be inflamed) other serious infection affecting kidneys and causing death can be direct result of poor dental care.

You have informed the facility. Record how and when, as best you recall. Use "on or about" .

If this is happening with your LO, it is happening with others! Doing this can save you LO and others from unnecessary misery and even death!
Helpful Answer (4)
Reply to GraceLPC

I’ve posted signs on the bathroom mirror and in his room telling them to brush his teeth every morning. I check every day for a wet toothbrush and ask him if his teeth were brush. He usually can tell me. If they are not I file a complaint. Because I’m there 6 days a week they usually do what I need.
Helpful Answer (3)
Reply to Barb53

See All Answers
Subscribe to
Our Newsletter