Grants for senior smiles

University of Newcastle researchers have been awarded a grant to help seniors' oral health.
University of Newcastle researchers have been awarded a grant to help seniors’ oral health.

The University of Newcastle has been awarded a $100,000 grant from Central Coast NSW Medicare Local Limited for a “Senior Smiles” program to deliver oral hygiene to people in residential aged care facilities.

A Dental Hygienist will provide dental examinations, develop oral hygiene care plans, refer residents to dentists where necessary, and provide oral health education to residents, carers and staff.

A team of oral health professionals, led by University of Newcastle Oral Health Lecturer Janet Wallace, will record and monitor the oral health of residents.

“Elderly people living in Residential Aged Care Facilities are a high risk group for dental disease and poor oral hygiene.  Older age brings with it many physical and cognitive conditions, such as Dementia and Alzheimers disease.  This means that often residents are reliant on someone else to provide their oral hygiene care.  Dental hygienists have the expertise to provide this service and address the deficit in oral health care that currently exists for our dependent elderly,” she said.

“The grant provides an opportunity for us to set up a new model of care to provide oral hygiene services for our most frail and vulnerable.  It is hoped that this research may lead to a change in policy that instigates the employment of dental hygienists in all Residential Aged Care Facilities.”

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