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Posts tagged “elderly patients”

Dentists Welcome Tooth Whitening Ruling

The High Court recently ruled that tooth whitening should only be carried out by qualified dentists. The General Dental Council has welcomed this.

The ruling came in the aftermath of a case in which an individual was convicted of carrying out dental procedures (including tooth whitening) while not properly qualified.

Many non-dental professionals such as beauty therapists had hoped they would be allowed to offer a tooth whitening service, as the practice is essentially a cosmetic procedure.

However, since the treatment involves bleaching the teeth, only dentists and dental practitioners such as hygienists have the relevant experience to do the work. Beauty therapists and similar professionals are not experienced or knowledgeable enough.

Equally, dentists have long argued that although tooth whitening products are available on the market, and can be bought over the counter, they don’t advise people to do it themselves.

In other news, a recent conference discussed how older people, particularly those in care settings, can more easily access oral health care.

Older people are often forgotten about, especially when they move out of the family home and move into residential care.

While their physical and medical needs maybe taken care of, their dental needs often are not.

Speaking with reporters, Paul Batchelor, chair of the seminar, said: “The seminar provoked debate for the need for new ways of thinking about oral care of the elderly in the UK.”

He thought that some of the debates over the issues raised were filled with an authentic passion. This he said worked well in tackling some of them, such as the administration of oral healthcare for this part of society. Mr Batchelor expressed a desire to maintain this focus going forwards.

The conference brought together a range of different organisations including Age UK, Bupa, The Kings Fund and others.

Pilot Practicum in Canada Gives Dental Students Hands On Experience

A practicum offered to dental students at the University of Alberta in Alberta, Canada, allows 47 dental students to visit a senior care home and provide dental check-ups on the patients in the home. This practicum allows the residents the opportunity to receive the dental treatment they may need in the comfort of their residence. It also affords the students with invaluable in-field experience, all under the watchful supervision of a fully-certified dental hygienist. The students work in pairs, one student checking the patient while the other records information.

According to dental student Kim Showler, the practicum is a positive experience, and according to Dr. Sharon Compton, the dental programme’s director, the practicum is invaluable to the dental students. “We’ve recognized that to prepare dental hygienists for this kind of work … we needed to get these kinds of experiences for them,” she said.

Before the practicum began,  the residents visited off-campus dental facilities, but now, each pair of students is able to visit seven or eight residents in every visit, increasing the turn around and ensuring that any major dental problems do not go undetected.

Dental costs too high in Jersey

A panel looking at problems with the provision of dental care on the island of Jersey has come to the conclusion that costs are too high for most residents, especially those with young families and the elderly; the most vulnerable groups when it comes to oral care.

The Health, Social Security and Housing Scrutiny  panel, chaired by local woman Debbie de Sousa, found that dental treatment was too expensive for the average family on Jersey and has also made a number of recommendations aimed at making oral care more affordable, even for those families already struggling on low incomes.

The panel concluded that a higher proportion of people on the island are now needing extra financial assistance when paying for their family’s dental care. They also suggested introducing new schemes to encourage those on the lowest incomes to seek dental treatment when needed and to maintain regular check ups.

A programme that was designed some time ago to help pay for dental treatment for children and young people has not actually been updated for over 18 years. Families currently involved in the scheme are still only receiving £6 per month towards the cost of dental check-ups and treatment, which is not nearly enough to cover the costs of modern procedures or specialist equipment like braces. Other programmes that were designed to help those with lower incomes were also found to be ineffective and out of date.

Concerns were also raised over dental care for elderly residents on the island, particularly those who are ill or living in care homes, and made further suggestions as to how to provide better treatment for those who struggle to get out of their houses. Among their practical advice was organising improved training for residential carers and a scheme which will provide the elderly with free fluoridated toothpaste.

Elderly Encouraged to Monitor Dental Health

Public health groups in New Jersey are launching a campaign aimed at encouraging elderly residents to monitor their oral health more closely. Most campaigns of this kind are usually aimed at families with young children, but experts warn that problems like bad breath and gingivitis can have a much more serious effect on the lives of adults. Consequently, the need to take better care of your mouth and teeth will increase with age.

Dental groups in New Jersey recently launched a series of public service announcements highlighting the importance of dental check-ups and good oral hygiene as you get older.

“Dental care doesn’t stop when you get older,” said Andrew Greenberger, a periodontist participating in the US campaign. “It’s more important than ever to take good care of your mouth, whether you have your natural teeth or wear partial or full dentures. Good oral health leads to good overall health, and by contrast, poor oral health can lead to serious disease.”

The link between oral and general health has long been established, with recent reports suggesting that more frequent brushing and a healthier mouth can actually reduce the risk of heart disease. Regular dental check ups are not just likely to identify problems with your teeth, but can also help health professionals identify other potential conditions, even ones not at all linked with your mouth but actually found in other areas of the body, much earlier.

Elderly patients are also more at risk from certain oral conditions that dental check ups will be able to identify and treat, before they become more serious. Oral cancer, for example, if found early can be treated relatively easily, despite the high death rate if it is discovered later. The elderly are also more likely to suffer from more minor oral health problems, such as gingivitis and other diseases of the gums, because of weakened tissue, often caused by the use of dentures.

Dentist Angered by Changes to Service

A South Wales dentist has criticised the local Health Board’s plans to change dental provisions for residents of nursing homes in the area.

Alan Young is 1 of 6 self-governing dentists in Camarthenshire who makes customary visits to nursing homes, in order to carry on treating former patients who are no longer able to visit the surgery. Mr Young gives up to days a week to treat his elderly patients and even closed a branch surgery so that he could carry on this service. However, he has now been told that from December 1 financial support for the scheme will be removed and instead residents will be treated by the community dental service.

Mr Young described the change as “another kick in the teeth” for local older people, many of whom already face the prospect that their nursing homes may be closed. “I feel very annoyed that the service will not be continued in the same way,” he added.

Bernadine Rees, director of Primary and Community Services for Hywel Dda Health Board, is confident that local patients will not be ignored at the time of the changes to the service in December. “The health board would like to reassure patients they will continue to receive their dental care, within their own care homes, in exactly the same way as before, delivered by the community dental service instead of independent dentists,” she said. “This decision has been taken following a full review of current dental services which aims to ensure the long-term future of quality dental healthcare within home settings. The small number of existing service providers affected by the proposals have been individually contacted.”

But Mr Young insisted that many nursing home staff and managers have not been informed about the changes and were shocked when he told them he would not be able to come after December. “They love the service because even though my surgery isn’t in Llanelli, I devote a few days a week to come to their homes,” he said.

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