A partnership worth smiling about

Improving dental care for people with dementia

Dementia Australia is delighted to be working in partnership with The Australian Dental Association on an extremely important project which forms one of our National Quality Dementia Care Initiatives.

This initiative has been made possible through the philanthropic J.O & J.R Wicking Trust, which seeks to affect systemic change in the wellness and quality of life of the aged and those with, or at risk of, Alzheimer’s disease and dementia.

“What is fantastic is that consumers have identified this as an area that is important to them,” says Carol Bennett, Dementia Australia CEO, about the partnership that will help dentists more efficiently treat patients with dementia.

Bite Magazine

Bite Magazine

“It is so important that dentists and other oral health professionals are aware of the issues facing people with dementia, and that they can relate to them in a way that helps them understand their dental care,” Ms Bennett said.

Associate Professor Matthew Hopcraft from Melbourne University is heading up the project. Professor Hopcroft has a PhD in oral health for people in residential aged care and has a keen interest in this area.

Professor Hopcroft explained the focus would be on online training.

“We have 15,000 dentists spread around the country, so developing online materials is the best way to ensure that every practitioner has access to them,” he said.

Resources including video modules are being created by the ADA in collaboration with Dementia Australia and the steering committee comprising a broad cross section of people living with dementia, social workers, carers and dental professionals.

In a recent article with Bite magazine about the partnership, Professor Hopcroft said, “one of the central issues we’re addressing is how to approach a long-term patient who goes through various stages of dementia. Some of the things people with dementia have difficulty with are new things - new environments, new faces - and so continuity of care is so critical for these patients living with dementia.”

Dementia Australia’s National Ambassador Ita Buttrose AO OBE is supporting this partnership initiative by helping to create the video resources which will enable dentists across the country to provide their patients living with dementia and their carers, with the best possible care.

“There are currently more than 353,800 Australians living with dementia. This number is expected to increase to almost one million by 2050, consequently more and more of our ageing population with dental care needs will have dementia. We need to ensure dentists and oral care practitioners are provided with the tools they require to continue to improve the quality of care and support for their patients living with dementia,” Ms Buttrose said of the project.