New guidance on dementia-friendly dentistry

NEW guidelines have been published to help dentists provide better care for patients with dementia.

Dementia-friendly dentistry from the Faculty of General Dental Practice UK (FGDP UK) advises dentists how to adapt their patient management and clinical decision making.

Written with input from organisations such as the Alzheimer’s Society, it covers:

  • The epidemiology and diagnosis of dementia, and its implications for dental professionals
  • Principles of care management, including patient identification, competence and referrals, communication, consent and capacity
  • Clinical care, including history taking, treatment planning, care delivery and prescribing
  • Site-specific considerations for dental practices, care homes and domiciliary care.

It also includes information about local support, educational programmes and resources for patients as well as more than 50 recommendations for practitioners.

Emma Bould from the Alzheimer’s Society welcomed the guidelines and said dentists have a “crucial role” to play in the community for people with dementia. She emphasised the importance of establishing a care programme as close to diagnosis as possible, before the condition worsens.

She added: “For many dementia patients looking after their teeth can become a real problem – remembering to brush regularly, communicating dental pain and even managing dental appointments can all be a real struggle.

“It is imperative that all dementia patients have access to supportive oral healthcare and are understood when they visit their local dentist.”

FGDP UK vice-dean Paul Batchelor, who edited the guidelines, said: “Dementia affects many aspects of an individual’s life, and these guidelines are designed to help the profession understand the condition and its implications for dental practice.

“By ensuring high standards of care, dentists can help minimise some of dementia’s potential effects, particularly those also associated with poor oral health, such as worsening of diet and social isolation, and a concomitant decline in general wellbeing.”

Free copies of the guidelines will be sent out to the Faculty’s 4,500 members as well as those who join by the end of 2017. Hard copies are available to buy for non-members for £25 on their website.

Further advice on treating patients with dementia is available in this article from MDDUS Insight magazine