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Can we do anything about the looming oral health care crisis in Canadian Long-Term Care facilities?

If we are to believe an article that appeared recently in the New York Times titled “In Nursing Homes, An Epidemic of Poor Oral Hygiene”, many of the oral health care needs of residents of long term care facilities (LTCs) in the US are not being met. It is probably fair to assume that many of the same needs are going unmet in Canada

In order to find out what the Canadian Dental Association is doing about this looming “epidemic” in Canada, I spoke recently with Dr. Mitch Taillon, a member of the CDA Board of Directors, who also chairs the CDA Access to Care Working Group.

You can see a video of that interview at the link below.

The main points from the interview are:

  1. CDA is aware of the issue and we have gathered information about the problems and proposed solutions in different parts of the country.
  2. There are parts of the country where services are better than others and we are advocating for a harmony of service levels around the country.
  3. The CDA Committee on Clinical & Scientific Affairs has created a number of pertinent documents including one titled “Optimal health for frail older adults…
  4. In 2010, CDA published an official position statement about access to oral health care for Canadians.
  5. In 2011, CDA made improving access to care a top priority project.
  6. The CDA Access to Care Working Group has commissioned a document containing suggested draft legislation that if implemented would ensure a level of comprehensive oral health care for residents of LTCs.
  7. CDA is working to support the advocacy efforts of the provincial and territorial associations in this area, through providing the draft legislation document and by providing government and media relations training for representative dentists to carry the advocacy message to decision makers in provincial, territorial and local jurisdictions.
  8. Because “all politics is local” individual dentists can play a big role in reducing the burden of dental disease in LTCs. Dr. Taillon urges dentists to get involved with their provincial and local dental societies’ efforts to advocate for optimal oral health care for seniors.

Watch the video

Do you have any particular question on this topic? Do you have any comments or suggestions? Email us at oasisdiscussions@cda-adc.ca

You are invited to comment on this post and provide further insights by posting in the comment box which you will find by clicking on “Post a reply“ below. You are welcome to remain anonymous and your email address will not be posted.


  1. Sarah Gagné September 16, 2013

    Hi, I am in Québec City and I am a generalist dentist with 8 years of practice. I am very interested in starting a mobile dental clinic for the seniors population. I will soon start a little survey to see what the responses are from the senior residence directors. I hope that this kind of clinic will be welcome and will permit me to have a better professional/family balance than a regular practice.

  2. JCDA Oasis September 17, 2013

    On behalf of Dr. Thomas Detert:

    I believe that the long term care facility oral health care crisis would be greatly diminished IF these facilities had an on-site dental suite where dentists could come in and provide proper care. Whether the facility has a staff dentist, or just provides the suite with shared remuneration … I’ll leave that to the experts to decide.

    Many of these patients are not ambulatory.. or are ambulatory with extreme effort. Getting to a private clinic, where the majority of dentists practice, is quite often not feasible OR even safe for the patient.

    It’s not just a matter of access to care. It’s a matter of making the patients accessible to the dentist in a safe manner that allows us to practice to the standard of care mandated by the regulatory bodies.



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