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Older adult oral health

Our position

  • Removal of all patient charges for NHS dental care for all those in receipt of a state pension.
  • All those noted as requiring domiciliary care by their GP should have an automatic referral to local domiciliary dental services.
  • All those entering a care home to have an oral health assessment by a trained dental professional.
  • Regular training for care home staff on oral health maintenance.
  • A joined up system where care homes are linked to dental practices.
  • An independent review into oral health care for older adults with actionable recommendations which are reviewed annually to drive improvements to care.

What is the problem?

  • Older adult oral health is often neglected by policy makers.
  • Older adult oral health often suffers as a result of reduced mobility, reduced motor function, high level of restorative care, concern over patient charges and a reliance on carers.
  • Older adults in care or with other conditions such as dementia, may have trouble communicating that they have an oral health issue such as ill fitting dentures; Oral health issues for this cohort can have significant effects such as malnutrition leading to avoidable falls and hospital admission which can in turn lead to contracting aspiration pneumonia.
  • Older adults living independently, but alone, may also not prioritise oral health for a variety of reasons; This can exacerbate isolation if they cannot eat, speak or socialise without difficulty.
  • There are insufficient domiciliary services commissioned to meet need and referral into the service is not straightforward.
  • Older adults are not automatically exempt from NHS dental patient charges, which can cause problems for care homes who do not have access to finance.
  • The current contractual system does not support the provision of domiciliary care or reflect the additional time and care that many older adults will require.