Residents smiling as new programme launched

Mary Cooper, Kerry Morgan and Joan Bainbridge
Mary Cooper, Kerry Morgan and Joan Bainbridge

A new programme has been launched by Northamptonshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust (NHFT) to improve dental care for elderly care home residents in the county.

Its primary care dental service is visiting care homes to provide fluoride for elderly people to prevent further tooth decay.

Denise Birkett, Oral Health Promotion Practitioner for NHFT, said: “This is an exciting new partnership between NHFT and local care homes.

“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.

“We are offering a bi-annual fluoride application to the natural teeth of all older people in residential care. This is a free service, and a visiting Extended Duty Dental Nurse will apply fluoride to the patient’s teeth. This comes as a gel and is more concentrated than ones you apply yourself, so you do not need them as often.”

Denise is in the process of meeting local care homes and arranging fluoride sessions, and residents and carers have been written to in the form of a greetings card outlining what is planned for the fluoride applications. The trust plans to visit 120 care homes by January.

Denise added: “The project is going really well. So far, 46 care homes have received a two-hour interactive session on how to care for the mouth, and denture care and safe storage of dentures. A further 36 homes are booked in to receive training over the next few months. We’d also love to hear from any other homes wishing to book a training session.”

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 co-operative. Some of the relatives were unsure at first but most have been supportive.”

Mary Cooper, 88, is a former nurse and is currently a resident at Highmead House together with her husband Jim, who she met during the Second World War.

Mary said: “We were very happy to have this done – anything that makes your teeth better is good.”

Care homes wishing to book a training session can call Denise Birkett on 01933 235373 or email denise.birkett@nhft.nhs.uk For more information go to www.nhft.nhs.uk