Seniors can face challenges in maintaining their dental health, such as loss of hand movement or dry mouth due to medications. Older adults in assisted living facilities are especially susceptible to forgoing preventive dental services and treatment.
Thankfully, a new initiative crafted by both the Idaho State Dental Association (ISDA) and the Idaho Dental Hygiene Association (IDHA) aims to improve access to dental care in nursing homes.
Delta Dental of Idaho has donated much needed mobile dental equipment to this pilot program. Residents and patients in Buhl’s Desert View Care Center and Boise’s Avamere Transitional Care & Rehabilitation are the first to benefit from this new program.
Local, volunteer dental hygienists have already logged several hundred hours seeing patients. Desert View, alone, has 45 residents. Volunteers are training staff, conducting assessments (which are similar to a dental visit), and they are educating patients about dental insurance benefits. Many patients do not realize they can pursue treatment because they qualify for benefits through Medicaid. The volunteers can also perform dental cleanings onsite for patients who would struggle to get to a dental clinic, such as someone who has dementia. A dentist then signs off on the work performed. Since the treatment portion of the program has not kicked off yet, if a patient needs more extensive care, a volunteer can refer them to a clinic such as Family Health Services in Buhl.
Delta Dental has also donated dozens of Oral-B Precision 3000 electric toothbrushes to the program. They are a good solution for seniors who have lost some manual dexterity and would struggle to get a good brushing in with a conventional toothbrush. It’s an additional way to maintain the valuable dental services that the volunteers are providing.