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The changing face of dentistry: Treating people with dementia

15/08/2016  |  Tags: The changing face of dentistry, laser,
dental laser handpiece

Dentists are being provided with an exciting new tool to assist them in effectively caring for the 900,000 Australians who it is predicted will be living with dementia by 2050.

An initiative of the Australian Dental Association and Alzheimer’s Australia, the six-module online video series entitled Partnership in Practising Care: Quality Dental Care for People with Dementia, is a timely and valuable addition to dental resources.

Created with the aim of educating dentists on best practice processes to treat the increasing numbers of people with dementia they will encounter in their practices as the population ages, the series emphasises the importance of continuity of care, the use of preventative dentistry and ensuring that a high quality of life is maintained.

The encouraging news is that treating people living with dementia, an umbrella term that encompasses conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease and which can be marked by progressive memory loss, confusion and personality change, can be managed through simple but effective amendments to the way a practice operates and some professional mindset changes by its staff.

For instance, one of the key requirements for treating patients living with dementia is to get to know them well if there is no pre-existing relationship; this means that any subsequent treatments will grow out of what is effectively a partnership between the dentist and their patient.

Encompassing a broad spectrum of caring for people living with dementia , the modules encompass the following material:

Module 1 – What is Dementia?
Provides an overview of the condition and easy and effective ways that dentists can treat people living with dementia that enhances their quality of life and oral health.

Module 2 – Dentistry and Ageing
Addresses the challenges created by a rapidly-ageing population and the issues faced by dentists treating patients with dementia.

Module 3 – Dementia and Your Practice
Leads dentists and practice through the best communicative, administrative and clinical procedures for treating people with dementia

Module 4 – Consent
Details the importance of informed consent, what is required to obtain it and the onus on the dentist to ensure that their patient understands the treatment they will undergo.

Module 5 – Treatment Planning and Delivery of Care
Takes a dentist through the necessary steps in formulating treatment for people with dementia from treatment options to risk factors, consent issues and post-operative care.

Module 6 – Domiciliary Care
Explores operating in a residential aged care facility and the need for infection control, patient management and liaising with staff before and after a consultation.

It is hoped that the Partnership in Practising Care will transform the way in which dentists treat patients living with dementia, and that they will come to understand that a few simple changes in practice and mindset can have a profound effect on the oral health and overall wellness of these patients.

All six modules of Partnership in Practising Care will be available on Wednesday 17 August via the ADA’s CPD Portal.

•    Partnership in Practicing Care was funded by the Alzheimer’s Australia National Quality Dementia Care Initiative with support from J.O. & J.R. Wicking Trust.