Guide published to provide better oral health for vulnerable old people

Guide published to provide better oral health for vulnerable old people

Public Health England had issued a commissioning guide to provide better oral health for vulnerable older people. Dr Sandra White, national lead for dental public health, said “Maintaining good oral health throughout life and into older age not only improves our general health and wellbeing, but plays a part in helping us stay independent for as long as possible.”

Executive summary

Local authorities have the responsibility for health and care through The Health and Social Care Act 2012 and the Care Act 2014. This toolkit is part of a suite of resources designed to support the actions of commissionersto improve oral health of vulnerable older people in all settings.

As life expectancy has increased in recent decadesand there has been a clear trend of people keeping their natural teeth for longer it is essential we support commissioners to care for this group of people effectively. This toolkit focusses on groups for which the Adult Social Care departments, in local authorities, commission services:

  • · residential and nursing home residents
  • · older people living with dementia
  • · older people living with learning disabilities
  • · frail older people

Current evidence suggests that prioritising action to assess oral status, maintain oral hygiene and arrange appropriate dental treatment is essential because as people age they are likely to live with a range of complex co-existing medical conditions, dependent on multiple factors, which may predispose them to loss of independence, disability and frailty.

The reciprocal relationship between oral health and independence shows that people  are able to stay independent for longer, or recover from episodes of crisis or frailty, if they are able to eat and drink properly and take part fully in life. The Toolkit summarises the recommendations from the ‘Evidence Review of Effectiveness of Oral Health Improvement Programmes for Vulnerable Older People’ and from relevant NICE guidance.

The role of various organisations and the opportunities for commissioning programmes to improve the oral health of vulnerable older people is described along with financial approaches that could maximise the value for the investment. A number of facilitators that can help support action to improve the oral health of vulnerable older people are described.

Link to guidance:


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