Dental neglect and unmet dental needs have long been a serious problem in long-term care facilities (LTCF). Many residents experience poor oral health due to access-to-care issues and decreased ability to care for themselves. Caregivers in LTCF are often overworked and don’t have the time or training to provide adequate oral care to residents.1
Dental hygienist Angie Stone, BS, RDH, an RDH Community Connections influencer, lost her mother-in-law, likely due to poor oral health, and her grandmother lost 60% of her teeth during two years of living in a nursing home. Angie decided the suffering of the elderly due to oral neglect must stop, and she created a program to do just that. Through her program, delivered by the HyLife Oral Health Alliance (HOHA), Angie and others of like mind have become advocates for the oral health of elders in care communities. Her goal is to “never allow an elder to die from dirty teeth.”2
The alliance provides elder residents with oral care services, oral health products, oral health advocacy, and coordination of necessary dental work with local dental providers. HOHA also provides oral care/oral health education to care teams and support with all things related to the mouth. These services and resources result in “smiles being preserved, continued ability to enjoy food, and an overall feeling of wellness. Residents experience fewer cavities, if any at all, less gum disease, and improved overall health.”3 According to Angie, HOHA has “served almost 300 elders who live in a variety of settings including LTCF, assisted living, and memory care communities. We have assisted our clients with maintaining their oral health through the aging process. We have also coordinated care in dental offices for several clients when they needed to be seen for treatment by a dentist.”
Are you a hygienist who:
- Has a love for the elder population?
- Is ready for an “outside the box” opportunity where you develop new skills and use your current knowledge?
- Has one day a week to commit to building your territory?
- Enjoys getting out and meeting new people?
- Loves educating people about the importance of oral health?
If you answered “yes” to these questions, find out how you can help improve the oral health and maybe even save some lives of the elderly in care communities. Learn more at hylifeproviders.com/.
1. Branson B. Place-based model of care. Dimens Dent Hyg. Oct. 1, 2014. https://dimensionsofdentalhygiene.com/place-based-model-of-care/
2. RCC influencer of the month. RDH magazine. 2019;Sep:10. http://digital.rdhmag.com/rdhmag/201909/MobilePagedReplica.action?pm=2&folio=10#pg12
3. Our story. HyLife Oral Health Alliance website. https://hylifeoha.com/our-story/
Kirsten Brancheau, BA, RDH, has been practicing clinical dental hygiene since 1978. She earned an associate’s degree in applied science in dental hygiene from Union County College in 1977 and a bachelor of arts degree in English literature from Montclair State University in 1988. She is a member of the American Dental Hygienists’ Association. Brancheau is also a freelance proofreader, editor, and writer. She can be reached at [email protected].