Disparities in oral health status within institutional settings: the increasing need for oral health professionals that are prepared to serve these populations
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The aging U.S. population accompanied by the increases in the number of residents permanently living in institutionalized facilities (including nursing homes and correctional facilities) has a created a need for health care providers that are adequately trained to provide them with comprehensive care. This has subsequently created a need for more oral health providers that are trained to serve this population. This study aims to determine the overall oral health status of populations living in two specified institutionalized settings: nursing homes and state prisons within the US. A broad assessment of the common challenges in providing Oral Health Care to these groups along with the disparities that affect them disproportionately may improve the future care provided to them. As well as potentially improve the training and motivation of more oral health professionals to meet their needs. In order to adequately assess this challenge, several research studies at both nursing homes and a state prison in the US were identified and analyzed. According to the CDC, the estimated number of people in the US utilizing nursing facilities is expected to increase from 15 million in 2000 to 27 million by 2050. This also includes alternative residential care places and home care services so for the purposes of this analysis, we will only consider the provision of care in institutions from nursing homes. And as of 2013, there were 15,700 Medicare certified nursing homes in the U.S. It’s no secret that aging baby boomers are and will result in a much older U.S. over the next decade. According to CDC’s review on Long-term Care Services in the U.S.: 2013, the number of Americans in the U.S. over the age of 65 is expected to double (from 40.2 million to 88.5 million) from 2010 to 2050 This population group is more likely to need long-term care services in the areas of health, personal care, and general support because of their limited capacity for self-care; specifically oral health care. Xerostomia, commonly referred to as “dry mouth,” edentualism, and overall poor oral hygiene were among the most common concerns among elderly patients in nursing home. But with the increase of natural teeth retention into older age, there has been a subsequent increase in the risk of periodontal disease and tooth decay (Friedman et al., 2014). The US Federal Bureau of Prisons (FBOP) is the largest correctional jurisdiction in the US and is made up of 119 prisons and over 216,000 prisoners. While healthcare is under the direction of a Chief Medical Officer, oral healthcare is controlled by a chief dentist who further delegate the duties to regional chief dentists. But despite a highly organized division of health care within correctional facilities, inmates still have a severe compromised oral health due to drug abuse. This usage results in increased instances of dental disease and pain that often go unnoticed among this institutionalized population. Whether or not there will be enough qualified dental providers to fill the needs of this group remains an important issue for current and future oral health professionals.