Meet Sally. Sally is our Dental Nurse who has a specific interest and additional training to support people attending our Practice with special needs.
It is Sally’s goal to identify and consider the individual needs of anyone with learning or physical impairment; communication difficulties; mental health issues or anxiety, to give some examples.
Her extended knowledge helps us provide effective, co-ordinated dental care and helps to overcome the barriers that make attending the dental practice challenging for some people.
In addition to ensuring access to dental care and treatment is possible for everyone, Sally’s role is key to promoting oral health and well being for those with special needs.
Often patients such as this have complex health needs that may compromise their oral health. They may be taking multiple medications resulting in side effects and drug interactions causing symptoms such as a dry mouth (Xerostomia); difficulty or discomfort in chewing or swallowing (Dysphagia); soreness from denture wearing or overgrowth of their gum tissue (Gingival Hyperplasia).
Periodontitis (inflammatory gum disease) linked to Alzheimer’s progression.
A recent study by the University of Southampton revealed that the presence of gum disease was associated with an increase in the rate of cognitive decline in Alzheimer’s patients, as a result of systemic inflammation.
This highlights the importance of treating gum disease and optimising the oral health of people with Alzheimer’s.
Gum disease is widespread in the UK and in older age groups is a major cause of tooth loss. A number of studies have shown that having fewer teeth, probably as a consequence of earlier gum disease, is associated with a greater risk of developing dementia and patients with dementia have poorer dental health than others of a similar age.
People with cognitive or physical impairment are likely to find it more difficult to maintain their oral hygiene routine so it is essential that they attend the Dentist and Hygienist on a regular basis and get the additional support they need from a Special Care dental nurse.
What else can our Special Care dental nurse offer?
- assistance with communication, mobility or transport.
- liaison with other organisations for on-going referral, such as community or domicillary care; orthodontic or sedation services.
- the timely management of appointments, adjusting length or time of day according to individual needs.
- reviewing medications for any interactions or contraindications for oral health.
- education for patients and care givers about oral health needs and required treatments
- providing user friendly information leaflets
- teaching assisted tooth brushing techniques; the effective use of interdental aids; appropriate mouth washes and care of appliances
- promoting preventative care, fluoride applications and an appropriate diet
- advising on aids and adaptations; such as the ‘collis curve’ adapted tooth brush and custom made mouth cleaning devices.
If you feel you need some help or advice for yourself or someone you care for, we’ll put you in touch with Sally. Contact our reception team or for more information on dental care for people with special needs, follow the link below from the Oral Health Foundation.