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Oral health education programs for caregivers of older adults lead to improved oral health outcomes in elderly patients

Wang TF, Huang CM, Chou C, et al. Effect of oral health education programs for caregivers on oral hygiene of the elderly: A systemic review and meta-analysis International Journal of Nursing Studies: 2015 January:52(6):1090-1096

Review question

Do oral health education programs for caregivers of older adults improve oral health outcomes of elderly patients?


Older adults are often unable to independently maintain their oral health and require the assistance of a caregiver.

A large proportion of the elderly population suffer from poor oral health, putting them at higher risk for malnutrition, cardiovascular disease and infectious respiratory diseases such as pneumonia.

Programs educating nurses about how to properly maintain the oral health of elderly patients is a promising means of improving oral health outcomes in dependent elderly populations.

How the review was done

A detailed search of a number of electronic databases for studies published up to September 2014 was conducted. Studies that focused on oral health education programs for caregivers of the elderly were included in the review.

A total of 570 studies were identified in searches, and five were included in the review after assessments for eligibility.

The authors did not acknowledge any funding sources for this review.

What the researchers found

Education programs targeted mainly nurses, and course material covered dental diseases, common oral health risk factors and oral hygiene instruction.

The review found that the percentage of residents in long-term care facilities with no visible plaque and no dental inflammation significantly increased after the group was treated by caregivers who had received a recent oral health education program.

There was some indication that multiple education sessions contributed to improving oral health knowledge and practical oral hygiene procedures of caregivers.


The review found that oral health education for caregivers may be effective for improving the oral health of the elderly. In addition, multiple education sessions may augment oral health education of the caregivers. More evidence is needed to confirm the possible health benefits of increased oral expertise in caregivers for the elderly.


Risk factors
Aspects making a condition more likely.
The body's network of blood vessels. It includes the arteries, veins, and capillaries that carry blood to and from the heart.

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