It Is Time
Smile agus Slainte – National Oral Care Policy was published by Minister Simon Harris in 2018. Covid-19 was a gargantuan disruptor of advances for this policy – but it is time.
Time to put the discussion of Oral Care firmly back on the table.
Time to help heal our ageing population after the horrendous past 16 months of life during Covid-19.
Time to show the most vulnerable in our society that our country cares about them.
Time to thank them for holding on, staying strong, giving up so much to help in our joint effort of protecting the HSE and protecting each other.
Time to support the nurses & carers in Nursing Homes and LTRC facilities – to share the burden and not make them responsible for an element of residents’ care that they have little or no training in.
At Dental Tech, we know from servicing care home facilities for over 7 years, that around half of all care home residents have some of their own natural teeth, but their oral health is typically much worse than their peers living in the community. With increasing age, the ability to care for their mouth deteriorates, essential oral care becoming challenging without support from care home staff, who are stretched to almost breaking point and receive no training on oral care health.
In addition, medication leads to dry mouth, diets can be rich in sugars and carbohydrates and oral cancers can be developing unnoticed.
All these factors can increase the risk of oral diseases, reduce the quality of life, provoke poor health and diet, thus exacerbating underlying medical conditions and creating a need for complex emergency dental restorations. [i] Residents can also suffer psychological and social repercussions from problems such as bad breath, changed dental aesthetics and altered speech.
Current proactive oral care practices in nursing homes are poor. Challenges include lack of policy, inadequate resources, lack of training – all compounded by high staff turnover. Proactive care to enable persons in long term care to eat, chew, speak and smile with dignity and afford them an enhanced quality of life can only be achieved by bringing the dentist to the care facility.
Access to domiciliary services must be recognised as a priority area in care for older persons to reduce hospital admissions for dental care or causing distress to residents (a significant proportion of whom suffer from cognitive impairment and dementia), and their families who need to take their loved ones from their place of comfort and security to a dental clinic.
Our evidence suggests significant deterioration in oral health, with little attention to oral care being received by care staff during the pandemic. The consequences of this lack of preventative care causes discomfort, weight loss, lack of self-esteem, inability to eat. International evidence suggests that improved oral hygiene and frequent professional oral care can reduce the progression or occurrence of respiratory tract diseases in dependent older patients.[ii]
Given the respiratory consequences of COVID‐19 infection, this becomes even more significant. Moreover, patients in intensive care units with poor oral hygiene requiring mechanical ventilation have a higher risk of ventilator-associated pneumonia (VAP).[iii]
Dental Tech offer Denture & Dental care to our ageing population in the comfort of their homes or residential care facilities
- Our mobile teams visit Care Homes and offer facility-wide Proactive Oral Care Programmes to all residents.
- Our mobile teams can visit your loved one at home or in their care home
- We offer a TeleDental service for emergency assessments
Article by Saoirse O’Reilly, Customer Relationship Manager at Dental Tech Group
For appointments and more information firstname.lastname@example.org 01 455 1866 www.dentaltech.ie