August 2017: Too many dependent seniors go months without a teeth cleaning
Too many seniors in Canada do not obtain adequate daily oral health care. With the aging population and increasing strain on the publically funded healthcare system this issue will likely to be magnified in the coming years
The mouth is the entry point to a healthy body — to eat, drink and breathe — and to life's pleasures of socializing and communicating with others. Yet as a focus of general and personal health, the mouth remains separate from the body in our publicly funded healthcare system. This is a double-edged problem for the increasing numbers of Canadians who are frail and dependent.
Often an oral health crisis comes about simply because the necessary day-to-day oral health care required from within publicly supported institutions and programs fails our seniors. On the surface, brushing and flossing may seem to be mundane tasks. But when providing this care for others, it requires skill, the right resources and the commitment and will to ensure it is done well and regularly.
Efforts are being made to respond to these needs. For example, the Registered Nurses Association of Ontario has developed the Oral Health Nursing Best Practice Guidelines which aims to address the daily oral care needs of dependent adults and are applicable to multiple care settings including acute, residential and community practice settings.
Retired Nova Scotia nurse Lillian Sutherland recently challenged others to "have a look in your loved one's mouth to see his/her state of care. Can you imagine not having your teeth cleaned [brushed or flossed] for months, or never?" That's the reality for too many Canadian seniors.
If you are involved in the care for a dependent senior investigate into the state of their oral health and what kind of daily care they are receiving. A healthy mouth can make a huge difference in terms of quality of life!
Dr. Lauren Vredenburg
Calgary Fine Dentistry