ORAL health researchers from the University of Newcastle have been given a $540,000 boost for a seniors' dental program.
Janet Wallace and her team at the university’s School of Health Sciences secured further funding for the Senior Smiles program, which has been helping elderly CentralCoast residents for more than eight years.
The money will ensure qualified dental hygienists and oral health therapists remain in place at five major aged care facilities.
The program runs student placements and emcompasses prevention, intervention, treatment and referral pathways.
“Our research shows that around Australia, residents in aged care facilities are often only treated for oral health conditions when it becomes an emergency,” Dr Wallace said.
“Our program means the team is able to provide a preventative oral health focus, gain the trust of residents in order to proactively identify issues in their oral health, and fast-track their treatment for specialist attention before problems become severe.”
Residents of aged care facilities are a high-risk group for dental problems, multiple medical conditions and cognitive issues such as dementia and Alzheimer's disease, which can contribute to poor oral health.
Dr Wallace would like to see the Senior Smiles program rolled out in residential aged care throughout Australia.
The money was donated by the Elderslee Foundation Australia.
Did you know?
- More than one in five Australians over the age of 65 have no teeth. Most of this is caused by tooth decay and advanced gum disease.
- Dry mouth is often caused by prescription and over-the-counter medications. This can contribute to significant tooth decay and gum disease.
- Just under a quarter of Australians (22 per cent) suffer moderate to severe periodontitis, which has implications for general health.
- Periodontitis (advanced gum disease) has been linked to a number of systemic conditions including diabetes, cardiovascular disease, rheumatoid arthritis, lung disease and kidney disease.
* Facts from Oral Health Advisory Panel.