A pilot programme to improve dental care for Northamptonshire’s elderly has been deemed a success in its first year, with more than 100 care homes signing up to the scheme.
Northamptonshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust (NHFT) has delivered training to 800 care home staff in the county to provide fluoride for elderly people to prevent further tooth decay.
The service offers fluoride application twice a year, which is administered in gel form. The team hopes to visit about 25 more homes before the end of the pilot scheme.
Denise Birkett, oral health promotion practitioner for NHFT’s salaried primary care dental service, said: “We are delighted with the success of this scheme, which has had a significant impact on both the knowledge of care home staff around the importance of ensuring good oral health for their residents, and has also been received positively by the residents themselves.
“The high number of care home staff who have received the training will now be able to share their awareness of older people’s oral health with colleagues, residents and relatives.
“Most toothpastes contain fluoride, and the majority of people get their fluoride this way. However, as people get older, their teeth can become more prone to dental decay and tooth wear. Fluoride applications are especially beneficial for older people and for those with a dry mouth.
“Fluoride can greatly help dental health by strengthening the tooth enamel, making it more resistant to tooth decay and reducing the amount of acid that is produced on your teeth.”
Kerry Morgan is the registered manager of Highmead House in Irthlingborough, one of the first care homes to take part in the new scheme.
She said: “The fluoride project has made a huge difference to oral hygiene within the home. I would definitely recommend it to other care homes in the area.
“All of our staff say it has really improved their knowledge and the residents were very cooperative. Some of the relatives were unsure at first but most have been supportive.”