Modified textured foods are becoming more innovative, but with these foods come concerns about oral health.
Nutritional value and food safety should be considered a priority for the overall health of the older person. Ideally, a balanced diet is optimum for older people but is not always suitable for those that have difficulty eating. Pairing a diet that is necessary for an older person along with a personalised oral care plan is vital for those residing in aged care facilities.
Texture modified foods can be higher in sugars and carbohydrates which can be detrimental to oral health if regular and thorough cleaning is not performed. The key would be for aged care facilities to personalise each resident’s oral care plan aligned with the diet they have. For example, a higher sugar or carbohydrate diet may require the older person to brush three times daily with a fluoride toothpaste or a high fluoride toothpaste prescribed by a dentist.
What dental care is offered and the ease for residents and patients to receive the best oral health care comes down to effective daily oral care routines. Caregivers and nurses within aged care facilities should be trained to identify what a healthy mouth of an older person looks like, how to have effective daily oral care routines that assist maintaining oral health. This knowledge paired with attained oral hygiene skills will be a great foundation for the oral health of all residents and patients within an aged care facility.
The New Zealand Dental Association and Ministry of Health facilitate oral health training for caregivers of older people annually. All aged care facilities should also have a local dentist that can be contacted for their residents and patients if their oral health matters change or worsen. These changes should be identified by carers within the facility and a dental professional should be contacted immediately in order to seek advice or treatment. If aged care facilities need to find a dentist, they can search for one on the NZDA website, click here.