Desensitization technique effective in reducing tactile hypersensitivity in elderly: Study
Oral tactile hypersensitivity (TH) is characterized by aberrations in the perception of oral stimuli. Oral tactile hypersensitivity is also associated with a decline in ingestion and swallowing function. Technique for mitigating hypersensitivity can effectively mitigate TH, suggests a recent study published in the Journal of Dental Sciences.
Oral health care provision in long-term care settings is often limited by specific behaviors exhibited by residents, which may be interpreted as a refusal of care. Such behaviors can be attributed to oral tactile hypersensitivity.
Oral tactile hypersensitivity is defined as the response elicited when an afflicted area is touched; this may include spasms occurring either locally or systemically throughout the body. Within the oral cavity, Oral tactile hypersensitivity is characterized by facial distortion and an inability to open the mouth due to the stiffening of the lips and facial muscles; this is often interpreted as a refusal of oral care and food intake.
Therefore, Maki Shirobe and colleagues from the Tokyo Metropolitan Support Center for Preventative Long-term and Frail Elderly Care, Tokyo Metropolitan Institute of Gerontology, Tokyo, Japan conducted a study to examine the effectiveness of a technique for mitigating TH (TMH) among institutionalized older persons.
In this study, 18 institutionalized older persons (Mean age, 90.6 ± 4.5 years; 92.9% females) with TH were randomized to a control group or an intervention group. Pre- and post-intervention assessments were conducted for seven participants in each group.
Routine oral care was provided by the facility's staff in both groups. TMH in the intervention group was performed by a dental hygienist over a 3-month period.
The authors observed that the number of areas with TH was significantly reduced (P = 0.027) in the intervention group. Furthermore, no significant change was observed in the control group.
Hence, it was concluded that TMH can effectively mitigate Oral tactile hypersensitivity. It was also observed that the findings provide clinicians with an additional treatment option for hypersensitivity in older patients.
However, additional long-term studies with larger sample sizes are required to confirm the effectiveness of this technique.