Care home residents should be helped to brush their teeth twice a day, according to the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE).
A new draft quality standard advises care home staff to assess the oral health needs of residents on admission and record them in personal care plans.
Professor Gillian Leng, deputy chief executive of NICE, said: “We know that supporting good daily oral health care in care homes varies enormously across the country.
“This draft quality standard prioritises assessment of care home residents, recording of plans and ensuring support is in place for those who need it.
“We are confident that such simple measures could substantially improve the quality of life of many people living in care homes.”
NICE and the Social Care Institute for Excellence have produced a quick guide for care home managers to help them improve residents’ oral health.
Professor Elizabeth Kay MBE, foundation dean of Peninsula Dental School, Plymouth University, professor and consultant in dental public health and specialist committee member, said: “Looking after someone’s mouth should be as much a part of the care expected as ensuring their personal hygiene and providing adequate clean clothing.
“Helping care home residents with this basic daily routine maintains not only their oral health but, just as importantly, enhances their dignity and self-esteem.”
Age UK estimates 426,000 people live in care homes, approximately 405,000 of whom are over 65.
Consultation on the draft quality standard for oral health in care homes and hospitals is open until February 3 2017.