12th July 2013 Bringing Smiles to the Elderly:

Oral health often has low priority in elderly care. Oral health care for the elderly is of particular importance because it can affect overall health to a greater extent than in younger people. In 2003 the World Oral Health Organization’s World Oral Health Report stated that,

‘the interrelationship between oral health and general health is particularly pronounced among older people. Poor oral health can increase risks to general health and, with compromised chewing and eating abilities, affect nutritional intake’ (WHO 2003)

The Dental Wellness Trust is researching the dental needs of the elderly in care homes. In August we began to carry out an assessment of oral health for the elderly residents of Highlands House care home in Cape Town. This initiative followed a seminar in April for 20 carers and managers led by Dr Linda Greenwall and Dr Alon Livni at Highlands House. The seminar aimed to show the importance of oral health care and the relationship oral health has with overall health and wellbeing. This initiative will be used to develop oral health protocols for the elderly in care homes in the UK.