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Let's talk infection

Last I checked, the head is connected to the body right? Yet many people are astonished to hear of the relationship of Periodontal (gum and bone) infection and the rest of the body. When it comes to caregivers and resident assistants of extended care facilities, they know nothing more critical and perilous to the body as bed sores. Bed sores, also known as decubitis ulcers, are damaged skin and tissue caused by sustained pressure of bony areas over long periods of time. If the ulcer is allowed to progress to further stages, this can lead eventually to infection locally and infection carried through the blood or sepsis. The fact that there are even federal and local laws in place to protect residents in facilities from these lesions stresses it's importance.

So infection is infection, no matter where it is in the body. And it's not always in a place where it can be seen regularly. In the case of Peridontal disease, this infection does travel to other parts of the body and leads to inflammation of other body parts. So when I speak to caregivers about the infection of the oral cavity, I relate it to a bed sore. This is when I see light bulbs go on in the heads of these caring and hard working individuals. There is an epiphany! It is likened that if we could lay the surface area of the mouth infected with periodontal disease end-to-end, the infection would be the size of the palm of an adult's hand. Imagine a bed sore the size of that! Put a sore the size of a hand somewhere on a resident's body and it will gett noticed and treated. Periodontal disease infection is as serious as a bed sore. However, it's more dangerous due to the fact that it can't be seen and the medical team is not identifying it.

Working to improve oral care for your loved one at home, or individuals in facilites can prevent further systemic infection and inflammation. And taking responsibility for the oral health of residents, benefits the facility as well. Imagine the costs associated with treatment of infections. Not only can costs be reduced to the facility by improved oral health, but costs are also reduced to the resident by way of needing less dental care and fewer medical treatments and hospitalizations.

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