Care partner–assisted intervention to improve oral health for older adults with cognitive impairment: A feasibility study

Bei Wu, Ruth A. Anderson, Yaolin Pei, Hanzhang Xu, Kathleen Nye, Patricia Poole, Melanie Bunn, Christine Lynn Downey, Brenda L. Plassman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background and Objectives: Older adults with cognitive impairment often experience poor oral health outcomes due to inadequate oral hygiene practices. This pilot study aimed to evaluate the feasibility of a care partner–assisted intervention to improve the oral hygiene of community-dwelling older adults with cognitive impairment. Material and Methods: The 6-month intervention included 25 older adults with mild dementia or mild cognitive impairment, who were randomly assigned to Treatment Group 1 or Treatment Group 2. Treatment Group 1 (n = 7) received an educational booklet. Treatment Group 2 (n = 18) received a booklet, a tailored care plan for the participants with cognitive impairment and the care partner received four coaching sessions to learn to facilitate good oral hygiene. Both groups received electric toothbrushes. The study consisted of a 3-month active intervention and 3-month maintenance phase. The outcomes of gingival index, plaque index and overall oral health status based on the Oral Health Assessment Tool were measured at baseline, 3 months (end of active intervention) and 6 months of the study. Results: This study had very low dropout rate. Participants’ oral hygiene improved in this study. In comparison to Treatment Group 1, participants in Treatment Group 2 had a greater reduction in plaque level and gingival inflammation, and greater improvement in overall oral health status. Conclusion: This study demonstrates the feasibility of this intervention designed to improve the oral health of persons with cognitive impairment and it lays the foundation for using this protocol in a future large randomised clinical trial.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)308-316
Number of pages9
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 2021


  • care partners
  • cognitive impairment
  • community dweller
  • intervention
  • oral hygiene

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Dentistry
  • Geriatrics and Gerontology


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