Dental students with carers from Age UK Plymouth
Dental students with carers from Age UK Plymouth

Dental students from Plymouth University Peninsula School of Dentistry have worked with care staff from Age UK Plymouth to help them achieve good oral health for the elderly people in their care.

The project was part of the Inter-Professional Engagement scheme run by the Peninsula Dental Social Enterprise, which sees dental students working with a variety of groups in the community to raise awareness of good oral health, improve access to dentistry and address oral health inequalities.

As we get older we need to be aware of how we look after our changing oral health. While some older people have dentures with the care needs associated with them, more and more people are achieving old age with all or most of their teeth in situ. As a consequence they need to care for teeth and gums which have already put in a life time of service, facing issues such as receding gums and dry mouths caused by medication.

Other issues affect dental health as we age. We may experience arthritis in our hands which makes tooth brushing difficult, or we may reach a point where physically and mentally we need to be looked after at home or in a care home.

The dental students took the Age UK Plymouth care staff through a number of activities and techniques which will help them look after the oral health needs of those in their care. They experienced brushing technique, flossing, dietary advice, denture care and how to spot common dental diseases – including the students demonstrating correct brushing technique on the care staff.

At an oral health workshop, the dental students set up a variety of stations covering denture care, interdental cleaning and modified toothbrushes.

The project finished with the students producing an oral health booklet for Age UK Plymouth.

Denise Gregson, Assistant Director (Care Services) at Age UK Plymouth said:

“We very much appreciate the work that the dental students have done to support and train our care staff in understanding the importance of maintaining good oral health for older people. The specialist knowledge gained gives us the opportunity to advise clients and service users on how to maintain good oral health to maintain their well being. The training the staff received will enable them to cascade down the information to colleagues and associates using the oral health booklets produced by the students”