A One-of-a-Kind Geriatric Dentistry Service
Access to dental services in residential care facilities is challenging. The Centre for Healthy Aging at Providence responded to this need by partnering with the Vancouver Coastal Health Authority and the Faculty of Dentistry at the University of British Columbia to develop an on-site program - the Geriatric Dentistry Service (GDS). Through a needs assessment conducted in 2000 at Providence Health Care residential facilities, the GDS identified a profound need in the resident population for a quality comprehensive dental care service. Over 70% of assessed residents suffered from dental conditions ranging from caries to gingival, mucosal, and periodontitis problems.
The GDS comprises four core elements: dental care for residents; prevention; education of staff, residents, and future dentists; and research on geriatric dentistry. The underlying philosophy is to improve the quality of life of residents by keeping them pain-free and infection-free . The Geriatric Dentistry Service is unique in Canada and provides leadership in the development of protocols for elder oral care.
Dental care: Treatments may range from denture fitting or replacement to clinical hygiene or complex dental surgery. Restorative procedures and extractions are performed at one of the three satellite clinics; complex procedures are performed at the UBC Dental Clinic. The dental team consists of general dentists, a dental hygienist, certified dental assistants, and dental specialists.
Prevention: A dental hygienist delivers training programs in daily oral hygiene to staff. The education incorporates a lecture session followed by an oral hygiene demonstration. In addition, a Mouthcare Guidelines and Protocols package has been developed.
Teaching: This includes training of future dentists through the exposure of undergraduate students to geriatric dentistry coupled with a dental residency program.
Research in geriatric dentistry: The data being compiled during the operations of this program has been used to publish a number of papers. Research is performed in conjunction with the ELDERS (Elders Link with Dental Education Research and Service) group at UBC.
As a result of the VCHA's commitment to this service, the Geriatric Dentistry Service has expanded this unique and high calibre service to other residential and intermediate care sites within the Region.
For further information contact:
Dr. Chris Wyatt
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