The key to better oral health in people with dementia is revealed

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Wednesday 14 September 2016

The key to better oral health in people with dementia is revealed: Preventative care, improving quality of life and continuity of care

The Australian Dental Association (ADA) and Alzheimer’s Australia are pleased to announce the launch of a series of new videos, Partnering in Practising Care jointly developed by dentists, medical practitioners and people living with dementia and their carers, to educate dentists and their team on best practice care for people living with dementia. The series emphasises the importance of continuity of care, using preventative dentistry and ensuring the person with dementia has access to appropriate dental care for the duration of their condition.

Alzheimer’s Australia National CEO, Maree McCabe said, “It is so important that health professionals understand dementia and how to communicate with people who are living with dementia and their carers. 

“Given the large numbers of people with dementia who will be seeking treatment from dentists, this project is timely to ensure the best practice in dental care is being achieved. September is Dementia Awareness Month so this is an ideal time to launch this important project with the ADA, as we aim to make our communities more dementia-friendly,” Ms McCabe said.

The ADA is honoured to have Alzheimer’s Australia National Ambassador, Ms Ita Buttrose AO, OBE involved in this project. 

The partnership was guided by a Steering Committee chaired by Associate Professor Matthew Hopcraft. Associate Professor Hopcraft is a Federal Councillor with the ADA, and is an accomplished academic who has been widely published on matters relating to the oral health of the elderly, including guest editing a special supplement of the Australian Dental Journal on ageing and oral health. 

Associate Professor Hopcraft said, “The Australian population is ageing, and Australians are retaining more of their teeth as they move into older age. With one in 10 people over the age of 65, and three in 10 over the age of 85 having dementia, this poses a significant challenge for the dental profession in managing the oral health and dental needs of these patients. 

“The ADA is excited to be partnering with Alzheimer’s Australia to address the oral health needs of people living with dementia in our community. The Steering Group brings together people with a range of expertise in dementia and dental care, including consumer representatives dealing with dementia on a daily basis,” stated Associate Professor Hopcraft.

Joan Jackman supported and cared for her husband Michael, who had younger onset dementia. As a member of the Steering Committee, Joan, together with other consumers, dentists and health workers, worked at meeting the priorities and objectives set by people who have dementia and for those people who share their lives.

“Maintaining and supporting the overall health of people who have dementia through the full duration of their condition is fundamental to their health, happiness and quality of life. This includes their oral health, supported by dental practitioners who understand the complexities of this condition, the impact it has on maintaining oral health and the importance of working closely with the person and their ‘carer’ throughout the progression of the condition,” Ms Jackman said.

“Congratulations to Alzheimer’s Australia and the Australian Dental Association for working together on this significant and long-overdue project to support and maintain the health of people with dementia – a fundamental human right,” Ms Jackman said.

The Continuing Professional Development Series addresses issues such as the ageing population and its impact on dentistry; simple ways dentists can adapt their practices to cater to the needs of people with dementia and their carers, an in-depth study in the complex issue of consent with a focus on the person, not the condition of dementia.

Partnership in Practising Care is funded by the Alzheimer’s Australia National Quality Dementia Care Initiative with support from the J.O. & J.R. Wicking Trust. This initiative run by Alzheimer’s Australia sees consumers set priority areas, select projects and provide advice through project steering committees. Consumers identified the role of a dentist as fundamental in the life of the person with dementia as a health care provider and trusted confidant.  

The materials developed will also be freely available to allied dental practitioners such as dental hygienists, therapists and prosthetists. For more information about oral health visit For more information about dementia call the Alzheimer’s Australia National Dementia Helpline on 1800 100 500 or visit

Interviews available with: 

  • Associate Professor Matthew Hopcraft, Federal Councilor of the Australian Dental Association
  • Maree McCabe, CEO, Alzheimer’s Australia
  • Joan Jackman, wife of Michael, who had Younger Onset Dementia

Media enquiries:
Bianca Armytage | 0407 019 430 | Dementia Australia [email protected]

Bryan Nguyen | 02 9906 4412 | Australian Dental Association [email protected] 

Alzheimer’s Australia is the peak body representing people with dementia and their families and carers. It provides advocacy, support services, education and information. More than 353,800 people have dementia in Australia. This number is projected to reach more than half a million by 2030.

National Dementia Helpline: 1800 100 500
An interpreter service is available
(The National Dementia Helpline is an Australian Government Initiative)
Dementia is a National Health Priority Area

Media resources and additional information: