We’re all taught that oral health is essential to keep our teeth healthy but what does this really mean? Poor oral health can lead to malnutrition, pneumonia and a weakened immune system which can make it harder to recover from common illnesses. Studies are being conducted to see whether dental hygiene has any links to dementia. So how can we encourage better dental hygiene?
Getting people you support to the dentist is no easy feat. Dental practices aren’t always accessible, medical settings can be quite distressing and getting there requires accessible transport and extra staff. Instead of taking the people you support to the dentist, why not bring the dentist to you? Domiciliary dental services provide dental care right at home.
Some local NHS trusts offer training on dental health for a few members of staff, appointing these staff members as Oral Health Champions. These Champions undertake the training and the responsibility of training existing and new staff. Ensuring your service is working to the NICE guidelines and the Oral Health policy could also become part of the Champions’ role.
Activities are a simple and fun way to encourage conversations about good oral health. Brushing your teeth may not seem fun but, depending on the people you supports abilities, it can be! If you have any keen knitters, download knitting patterns for knitting teeth, tooth fairies or tooth fairy pouches for grandchildren, young relatives and friends’ children. Arty people could have a go at crafting teeth and toothbrushes out of leftover cardboard and painting them. If you have any connections to a local school or nursery, invite them over (Covid-19 permitting) for a lesson on mouthcare. You could even have a sensory afternoon of science experiments, making elephant toothpaste, growing plaque with yeast and sugar and, egg brushing.
The Nourish platform allows dental hygiene to be logged, tracked and managed and provides an Oral Health Assessment Tool (OHAT) for new admissions. In Nourish, you are able to plan, manage and evidence dental appointments and visits and use the OHAT for regular reviews on the oral health of those you support. The Alerts and Warnings function can ensure appointments and reviews are not missed. Because dental health can have a significant impact on the general health of the people you support, the ability to monitor means early intervention is possible.