Pilot dental project aims to assist seniors, adults in long term care homes
For the majority of adults and seniors living in long term care, oral health often declines.
"I'm really happy that we have a dentist here now. It's good because I recently got two fillings done," said Donovan McAlpine, who lives at Sherbrooke Community Centre in Saskatoon.
Daily routines like brushing or flossing without assistance can be difficult for residents. Financial and mobility issues also make it hard for many to see a dentist regularly.
A pilot project that launched in Saskatoon on Wednesday aims to address the issue. Two make-shift dental offices are now set up at Sherbrooke Community Centre and Parkridge Centre. Resident and private practice dentists will visit the two homes on a regular basis for appointments.
The project has received a $20,000 Saskatoon Health Region (SHR) community wellness grant to hire an oral health coordinator for the two care homes. The person will work with staff, families and residents to make sure that daily mouth care is routine.
Things have changed over the decades, the vast majority of people still have their natural teeth instead of dentures, said Dr. Gerry Uswak, Dean at the University of Saskatchewan College of Dentistry.
"Those teeth have a lot of fillings, crowns, high end dental work that has to be maintained throughout their lives, so it's important that they get seen."
Patients will be charged for services they receive on a sliding scale based on their income level. For those who can't afford it, the work will be done pro bono, Uswak said.
Greg Zornicki, calls the service a god-send.
"A lot of our people are pensioners and they just don't have the money to do it," said the Parkridge resident.
The SHR will continue discussions with ministry of health to develop a plan to further implement dental and oral health care service at the provincial level for long term care.