The underdetection of pain of dental etiology in persons with dementia

Jiska Cohen-Mansfield*, Steven Lipson

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

51 Scopus citations


Background. The detection of dental pain in persons suffering from dementia has not yet been investigated. Subjects and methods. Twenty-one nursing home residents with a mean age of 88 participated in this study. Nine rotating volunteer dentists came to the nursing home to conduct dental evaluations. Two outside geriatricians performed a second assessment, and additional information concerning dental status was obtained from the minimum data set (MDS). Results. Over 60 percent of assessed participants were considered to have a pain-causing condition. Less than half of these were rated by the geriatricians as having dental-related pain. Only one participant was rated to have dental or mouth pain on the MDS. Only one of the 18 persons with either a full or partial evaluation had no dental problems. Conclusions. Dental problems are underdetected and undertreated in the nursing home. Better training for non-dentists in detection of such problems and better reimbursement for dental care are needed to improve care of residents.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)249-253
Number of pages5
JournalAmerican Journal of Alzheimer's Disease and other Dementias
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2002
Externally publishedYes


FundersFunder number
National Institute of Nursing ResearchR55NR004365


    • Dementia
    • Dental problems
    • Nursing home
    • Pain


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