Gerodontology MOOC / 6. Article: Oral Health Inequalities

Oral health, like general heath, is affected by deprivation. The poorest in society commonly experience more disease and also tend to suffer more from any given problem (known as ‘morbidity’) due to a lack of resources. This is seen in oral health where there is a large body of evidence to suggest that dental diseases are higher in low socio-economic groups. This is, in part, due to risk factors such as smoking, diet, alcohol, oral hygiene practices and exposure to fluoride. It can also be due to factors that many people take for granted, like being able to access NHS service provision or being to afford a toothbrush and fluoridated toothpaste. The process of ageing can exacerbate these further.

Access to Services

Dental service provision in residential care is poor, with little emphasis on prevention.[i],[ii] Access to domiciliary services is difficult and unscheduled care for dental problems (including hospital admissions) is common, complex to deliver and expensive.[iii],[iv] The World Health Organisation argue that the design of long-term care systems that are fit for ageing populations should take priority and the Royal College of Surgeons of England (RCS), Public Health England and the National Institute of Clinical Excellence have all called for more high quality research.[v],[vi] The recent Care Quality Commission have also highlighted the paucity of dental care in care-homes in their report published in June 2019

Next we will see how the Gwen am Byth programme has addressed this issue of access to services in the residential care setting...