Research Article| Volume 53, ISSUE 1, P33-39, January 2005

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Opportunities for nursing-dental collaboration: Addressing oral health needs among the elderly

      Providing quality oral health care for the growing elderly population is a major challenge, particularly for those residing in long-term care institutions. The Surgeon General's report on oral health in America (2000) noted that elders are at particularly high risk for oral health problems, and poor oral health in seniors has been linked to general systemic health risks such as cardiovascular disease, stroke, poor nutrition, and respiratory infection. This article outlines the need for greater attention to oral health care for the elderly in both nursing education and practice, and describes opportunities for effective inter-professional collaboration between nursing and oral health professionals. It also provides specific recommendations for fostering such collaboration. Working together, nurses and dental professionals can raise awareness of this issue, promote higher standards for oral care, and improve oral health and quality of life for elderly Americans.
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      Patricia Coleman is a John A. Hartford Foundation Building Academic Geriatric Nursing Capacity Scholar and a Post-Doctoral Research Fellow at the University of Rochester School of Nursing, Rochester, NY.