Rethinking geriatric oral healthcare

Hygienists often tell me their “horror stories” in serving older patients in retirement residences and nursing homes. These stories cover the waterfront — rampant decay among those with dementia, can’t get past the front door, gross inflammation in the mouth, preoccupation by the nursing team and unwillingness by the family to pay for better oral health until it is too late.

Not surprisingly, many hygienists give up on this rapidly growing segment of our community.

So what do we do? Here are some strategies we are working on at CHX:

  1. make oral healthcare part of the medical service in these facilities. In our case, Prevora is a topical medicine, much like creams for skin care, or topical antibiotics for superficial wounds and infections. So Prevora and its management of oral dysbiosis, belong in the medical team.
  2. make oral healthcare routine, affordable, painless and convenient. Prevora’s administration every 3 months in the medical practice in these facilities, and payment via a monthly stipend on the rent, meets many of the needs of the resident and the family. Simple.
  3. shift the message from chasing disease, to improving oral health and overall health. In the case of those on the slope of cognitive decline, many are very responsive to this message.
  4. form a strategic service plan with the operator of the facility. Avoid the front desk. Share in the revenues from better oral health.