One in four seniors suffers from advanced dental disease, which often makes eating, swallowing and speaking difficult, destroying their quality of life. What’s more, gum disease is associated with increased risk of cardiovascular disease, bacterial pneumonia and exacerbations of diabetes. To help alleviate these risks, the CDA Foundation supports programs that address the significant barriers seniors face in obtaining the care they need.
Geriatric Oral Health Access Program (GOHAP)
GOHAP makes use of a new model of care that introduces registered dental hygienists in alternative practice who work in tandem with dentists in long-term care residencies to perform oral health evaluations and teach daily care techniques to patients and staff. The GOHAP pilot program showed that with a little creative thinking, improving the oral health for the elderly is possible at minimal expense.
Senior Oral Health Training
Up to 96 percent of residents older than 65 who are in long-term care facilities have unmet oral health needs. What’s more, up to 80 percent have substandard levels of oral hygiene. With the Senior Oral Health Training project, and using a nationally recognized curriculum on oral health for elderly and disabled patients, dental hygienists are trained to properly care for patients, giving seniors much to smile about.
The Foundation received funding to implement this project throughout Los Angeles County with the goal of reaching 50 nursing homes, benefiting approximately 2,475 caregivers and 5,500 patients.
A similar project was implemented in five long-term care facilities in San Mateo County through which dental hygienists provided comprehensive training on senior oral health care to each facility’s nursing staff. By teaching the staff how to properly care for their patients oral health needs, future oral health problems can be prevented, thus improving the quality of life and overall health of the patients.
CDA Foundation has received generous funding for the Senior Oral Health Training Project from the Archstone Foundation.