This week, I’m looking at the importance of maintaining dental health for the people we support. CMG and Regard recognise that oral healthcare is a vital part of overall general health, wellbeing and quality of life. Good oral health is essential for speech, communication, enjoyment of food, good nutrition, social integration, and can improve self-esteem and dignity.
People with a learning disability have the same equal rights to a high standard of oral healthcare as the general population. However, statistics show that unfortunately poor oral healthcare can result in a higher incidence of dental decay and gum disease amongst people with learning disabilities than that of the general population.
Good oral health is not just about having an attractive smile – a clean, comfortable mouth is essential for good physical health and wellbeing. A healthy smile can boost visual appearance and really boost self-esteem. But poor oral health can lead to gum disease, which is associated with pain and can cause difficulties in eating. Bacteria and infections in the mouth can also have a negative effect on general health and wellbeing, and can be linked to further health conditions such as chest infections and cardiovascular disease. The condition of someone’s mouth can reflect health conditions in other parts of the body.
It’s really important that staff educate the people we support about good oral health and hygiene, and signs of a change. For example, if there’s some pain in somebody’s mouth, or an oral cavity, it could be a sign of serious illness or disease.
It is very important for support workers to stay aware of any dental problems with the people we support – especially since some of them may not be non-verbal, and may not be able to tell us that they have a problem with their teeth or gums.
It’s also important that statf look out for any behaviour change, such as an individual not wanting to drink or eat, or touching or hitting their face. The people we support should have regular dental check ups – at least once a year.
Our Oral Health Guidance leaflet which gives more detailed advice, and information on how to access dental services.
We also have this great Oral Health Vlog developed by the Clinical/Quality Team with people supported by CMG. Please encourage all staff and teams to watch this – it’s only 15 mins and a good addition to a staff meeting.
Service managers can also check the:
• Recent CQC report: which focuses on expectations of effective Oral Hygiene practices in care homes.
• Oral care and people with learning disabilities ‘Reasonable Adjustment Guide’ Is aimed at health professionals, paid social care staff and family members to support someone with learning disabilities to get good oral care. The report sign post to various resources, easy read and multimedia.