Public Release: 

Plymouth dentistry academic contributes to new NICE guideline on care home oral care

University of Plymouth

Professor Liz Kay, Foundation Dean of the Peninsula Dental School at Plymouth University, is a member of the guideline development group which has created a new NICE guideline for improved oral health in care homes.

According to Government figures more than half of older adults in care homes have tooth decay when compared to 40 per cent of over 75s and 33 per cent of over 85s who do not live in care homes.

Of the 400,000 adults resident in UK care homes, 80 per cent have some form of dementia and 30,000 are younger adults with learning disabilities.

Older adults in care homes are more likely to have fewer natural teeth. Those with teeth are less likely to have enough teeth to eat comfortably and without embarrassment.

The new guideline - "Oral health for adults in care homes" - includes recommendations for those who have responsibility for the health of care home residents. It calls for training for care staff and access to dental services when needed.

Professor Kay said: "I am delighted to have played a part in this guideline, not just because it will contribute to improved oral health in care homes but also that it will enhance dignity and confidence in those who are unable to care for themselves. The daily routines recommended in the guideline will help those with the responsibility for the care of adults in care homes achieve comfortable, pain-free mouths for their charges."

She added: "This is why, when we train the dental health professionals of the future at Plymouth University, they not only gain experience in treating older people and those with special needs but also work on projects and interact with the people who care for them."

As well as providing guidance for daily care routines the guideline also acknowledges the need for better access to dental care. The guideline recommends that local health and wellbeing boards ensure dental services are provided to care home residents. It also calls for care home managers to contact their local board if they are concerned about the availability of services.

Professor Kay commented: "As we live for longer, so more of us will eventually end up living in a care home. By providing guidance across what is a fragmented and inconsistent care environment, I would hope that we will see greatly improved oral health in care homes - now and in the future."

For more information about this news release please contact Andrew Gould,

About the guidance

    1. The guidance is available on the NICE website at:

    2. Recommendations include:

    3. Each resident should have a mouth care assessment as soon as they start living in a care home, regardless of the length or purpose of their stay. This should include details of their daily routine, if their dentures are marked or unmarked and contact information for their dentist. The results of the assessment should be recorded in their personal care plan.

    4. Staff should provide residents with daily support to meet their mouth care needs and preferences, as set out in their personal care plan after their assessment. This should include: brushing twice a day with fluoride toothpaste, daily care for dentures, using the residents' choice of cleaning products and toothbrush, daily use of any prescribed mouth care products and daily use of any over-the-counter products they prefer such as mouth rinses or sugar free gum.

    5. Ensure care staff know how to recognise and respond to changes in a resident's mouth care needs.

    6. Ensure care staff know how to respond if a resident does not want daily mouth care or to have their dentures removed.

    7. Ensure care staff who provide daily personal care to residents:

    8. Understand the importance of residents' oral health and the potential effect on their general health, wellbeing and dignity.

    9. Understand the potential impact of untreated dental pain or mouth infection on the behaviour, and general health and wellbeing of people who cannot articulate their pain or distress or ask for help.


About Plymouth University Peninsula Schools of Medicine and Dentistry

Plymouth University Peninsula Schools of Medicine and Dentistry (PUPSMD focuses on medical, dental and biomedical education and research. In education it takes the lead in using innovative, evidence-based learning techniques which nurture future doctors, dentists and biomedical scientists who are clinically excellent, have immense empathy for those in their care, and who are well-prepared for roles in an ever-changing health service. Research covers the areas of clinical neurosciences; cancer; inflammation, infection and immunity; diagnostics; genomics; stratification; prevention; personalised integrated care; and novel health technologies. The Research Excellence Framework 2014 ranked the organisation top in the UK for the quality of its research outputs. It is one of the lead academic partners in the Alzheimer's Research UK South West Research Network, and one of four Research Centres of Excellence for charity Brain Tumour Research. PU PSMD holds the Athena SWAN Bronze Award. The awards recognise institutional and departmental commitment to advancing women's careers in science, technology, engineering, mathematics and medicine/dentistry in Higher Education and Research. The Plymouth University 'Shape the Future' Campaign is a strategic fundraising initiative to transform lives and make a real and lasting difference to our global society. It supports a number of projects including the Derriford Research Facility and Brain Tumour Research at Plymouth University. If you would like to support the Campaign you can find out more by visiting

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