UK dentists have called on governments to fund dental services for residents in care homes, which are often either poor or non-existent.

The annual gathering of dentists from local dental committees held in Belfast this summer reported that commissioning dental services for vulnerable older people is rarely a priority and it’s time that this shameful situation is reversed.

Dentists have said that access to dental treatment should be given the same priority as general health for all adults in care homes, as the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) recommended two years ago but has yet to be delivered.

Research by the British Dental Association found that less than two percent of the NHS dental budget is spent on treating these patients. It has also found where oral healthcare provision is poor that residents can experience difficulties in eating, exacerbated by untreated mouth infections or ill-fitting dentures, which can lead to dehydration and malnutrition.

Recent reports from Healthwatch inspections have found staff in many homes were ‘rushed off their feet’, with many residents lacking access to even basic oral healthcare. It found vulnerable residents with dentures that have never been taken out, and home managers who admitted oral health was not a major priority.

Senior National Adviser for the Care Quality Commission (CQC), John Milne, told delegates that when the regulator inspects care homes, it expects them to be following the NICE guidance. He warned that the CQC is actively looking into what more it can do to improve the oral health of such residents.

Source: BDJ