Virginia Dental Association Foundation
Give Seniors a Smile: Preventive Dental Care in Long-Term Care Facilities Pilot
Through the pilot program, the Virginia Dental Association Foundation plans to show how routine dental hygiene services can reduce health care costs and decrease reliance on emergency interventions, while also serving as a model for other communities seeking a solution to the lack of oral care in nursing homes. The 12-month project proposes placing a full-time oral health care provider, such as a dental hygienist or assistant, in each of three carefully selected residential care facilities. These dental professionals, who will be trained in working with geriatric populations, will utilize emerging technologies to screen seniors for dental disease and oral cancer, create and implement a dental hygiene treatment plan for each resident, and refer patients to dentists for further evaluation and treatment, as needed. The providers also will monitor progress in achieving the project’s stated objectives by conducting periodic patient satisfaction surveys with seniors who are cognitively able to participate, as well as assisting with data collection on health care costs and dental-related emergency room visits and hospitalizations.