Oral Health Improvement
Dental Care for People Living in Care Homes
Dental Care for People Living in Care Homes: developing Enhanced Skills Dentists to safeguard oral hygiene and good oral health in older people
Having a healthy mouth is important to everyone’s health and wellbeing. We want to be sure that everyone, no matter what their age, has the dental care they need in order to maintain good oral health.
We recognise too, the importance of people having easy access to a dentist and that the care provided fits with the needs of each individual, so that people can eat their food properly and communicate confidently.
At present though, a large proportion of the population in Scotland over 75 are not registered with an NHS dentist, including those who live in a care home. Instead, our Public Dental Service generally provide this service (although this can vary from place to place) and we are keen to support our high street dentists to do more.
The Scottish Government is intending to put in place new arrangements that will see the introduction of dentists with enhanced skills to provide routine oral health care in domiciliary care. This builds on the important work of the Caring for Smiles teams in care homes helping people to maintain and improve oral health.
“We are planning some changes to the way that dental care is delivered in Care Homes” says Tom Ferris, Scotland’s interim Chief Dental Officer. “Over time we will be training more of our high street dentists with skills to better understand the needs of people living in care homes. They will then work in close partnership with care home staff and NHS staff to support preventive care and provide treatment if necessary.”
When in place, these dentists will oversee advice, care and treatment, starting with a dental examination for new residents when they arrive and developing an individual care plan to meet their oral health needs. They will work closely with other colleagues in the home to see that help is given for regular oral care for everyone as needed. They will be able to provide their registered patients with regular dental examinations and provide care and treatment. If more complex treatment is required enhanced skills dentists will share care with the Public Dental Service.
We have now started the training programme that will support these new arrangements, and anticipate a phased roll out over the next few years in the care home sector. If your home is likely to be involved at this early stage, your Health Board or existing Public Dental Service dentist will be in touch to discuss this with your care home manager.
If you want to know more in the meantime, you can contact us at NHSgeneraldentalservicesmailbox@gov.scot