The occurrence of a cerebrovascular accident (CVA), commonly known as stroke, has a significant impact on a patient’s oral health. Dental hygienists can provide valuable support in the maintenance of oral hygiene as survivors recover and adjust to life after a stroke.
This article provides an overview of the role of hygienists in assisting stroke patients with oral hygiene care.
Cerebrovascular accident (CVA), commonly known as stroke, affects millions of people each year. It is the fifth leading cause of death for Americans and the third for Canadians. In some cases (particularly in elderly patients) stroke causes severe and lasting disability.
Patients typically undergo extensive rehabilitation, including occupational therapy. Traditionally, it was physical therapists that helped patients regain oral hygiene skills following the incidence of a stroke.
However, cuts to healthcare benefits have resulted in many patients receiving less rehabilitation and little to no assistance in overcoming the challenges stroke can present in brushing, flossing and general oral self-care:
Additionally, many of the medications used to treat stroke survivors present side effects that further complicate their dental care:
Each cerebrovascular accident case is unique; not all patients who are recovering from stroke present the same conditions or follow the same path in recovery. However, dental hygienists who wish to support these patients must be knowledgeable of the many ways stroke can impact the state of a person’s dental health and the ongoing care they require.
Oral hygiene is an important part of a stroke survivor’s care and recovery. Regaining the ability to care for one’s teeth and gums gives patients a sense independence and control over their health.
For patients with lasting disabilities, dental hygienists can help empower the patient’s caregivers to provide quality dental care.
In most cases, patients are advised to wait at least six months after a stroke to receive non-urgent dental care, and to receive a post-CVA consultation with the patient’s physician. These are some of ways that dental hygienists can assist stroke patients with oral hygiene care:
October is National Dental Hygiene Month: an initiative to celebrate the hardworking, compassionate dental hygienists who contribute to the cause of improving oral health care. Sable Industries is proud to support your work.