Dental therapist Jennifer Stokes, Dr Peter King and dental hygienist Linda Wallace with their sets of pearly whites at the Smil
Dental therapist Jennifer Stokes, Dr Peter King and dental hygienist Linda Wallace with their sets of pearly whites at the Smil

All smiles for better oral health for elderly



OLDER residents of the Coffs Coast are sure to be kept smiling with an innovative NSW program for training carers of the elderly in the principles of good oral health.

Smiles Alive was introduced at a workshop at the Coffs Harbour Health Campus yesterday as part of the Teeth for Health program on the North Coast.

The program will be led by Dr Peter King, one of the State's leading special needs dentists.

"With the North Coast becoming an increasingly popular retirement destination, there will be a growing need for improved oral care, and the program is considered an effective step toward addressing this," Dr King said.

"Initially we will train dental educators from the North Coast Area Health Service and carers from aged care facilities who have an interest in improving dental health of the elderly.

"Our aim is for these staff to take on key roles in the establishment and monitoring of oral health programs in their facilities.

"We will also provide further training and encourage continuing support through dental clinicians in both the public and private sectors."

Dr King will be assisted by Linda Wallace, dental hygienist, and Jennifer Stokes, dental therapist, who have both been with the Smiles Alive program since its early beginnings in 2003.

"More and more people going into nursing homes have their own teeth, and they can decay very quickly in that environment," Ms Wallace said.

"It's not easy cleaning other people's teeth, so part of this is giving hands on practical advice.

"But it's not the only issue, access to dental care is also important, and we're addressing it in a more holistic way."



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