CDAA Position Statement – Oral health standards for Long-Term care Facilities

Canadian Dental Assistants Association

POLICY STATEMENT

 Oral health standards for Long-Term care Facilities

The Canadian Dental Assistants Association (CDAA) supports the establishment of national and provincial oral health care standards for minimum oral health care for residents of long-term care facilities to maintain and improve their oral and general health.

The CDAA supports the following:

  • Access to regular, annual dental examinations and long-term care treatments provided by a team of qualified dentists, denturists, dental hygienists, dental therapists and dental assistants, for residents of long-term care facilities.
  • Establishment of standards for dental equipment and space requirements in long-term care facilities to meet the residents’ needs.
  • Improving awareness and recognition of the pivotal role that oral health plays in overall general health and well-being.

The CDAA recommends the following:

  • The collaboration, coordination and sharing of information between medical practitioners, oral health practitioners and facility staff, in caring for residents in long-term care facilities.
  • The development of a national awareness campaign targeted towards residents of long-term care facilities, their families, caregivers and facility staff on the importance of oral health and its link to overall well-being.
  • Participation of oral health practitioners in a leadership capacity in lobbying provincial governments to expand education for long-term care facility staff to meet the daily oral health needs of residents and to increase their awareness of the importance of oral health.
  • Oral health screening by an oral health practitioner, for all residents upon their admission to a long-term care facility as part of the routine collection of health information for their file.
  • Continuation of scientific research that evaluates the link between oral health and overall health.

Rationale:

As the linkages between oral health, overall well-being and quality of life continue to be shown through numerous studies and findings, so too has the identification of vulnerable groups from among Canada’s population that face barriers to oral health care.  One of these vulnerable groups are residents of long-term care facilities.

Studies have shown that oral health is generally poor among residents of long-term care facilities. This situation results from a combination of inadequate daily mouth care, limited access to professional dental care, inadequate facilities for the provision of dental treatment, compromised medical condition, and limited finances1.   As well, residents face difficulty with brushing and flossing due to mobility issues, medications that can affect the production of saliva, and chronic diseases that lower immunity2.

With the aging Canadian population, the burden of illnesses and related diseases has the potential to increase health care costs and socioeconomic expenditures across the entire health care system2.   According to the Canadian Health Measures Survey, 2007-2009, income is a strong determinant of health status and access to care.  The Survey found that uninsured and low- to middle-income people, including older adults, tend to avoid dental visits because of the financial cost, despite many unresolved oral problems3.  The CDAA believes that there is a societal responsibility to address the oral care needs of Canadians, regardless of where they reside and that all Canadians should have equal access to oral health care without regard to their age, socioeconomic status or the nature of individual needs.

Bibliography

  1. Canadian Dental Association. (n.d.). Canadian Dental Association. Retrieved from http://www.cda-adc.ca
  2. Canadian Medical Association Journal. (2014, August ). We Need to Improve Dental health of Canada’s seniors. Retrieved from Medical News Today: www.medicalnewstoday.com
  3. Health Canada. (2010). Canadian Health Measures Survey 2007-2009 – Oral Health Component. Ottawa: Government of Canada.