Simone Powell is a Senior Policy Analyst in the Division of Aging, Seniors and Dementia at the Public Health Agency of Canada. Simone has been working in the field of public health policy and research for more than twenty-three years in both the government and non-government sectors (including, the World Health Organization, the Canadian Public Health Association, Health Canada and the Public Health Agency of Canada). Most of these years have focused specifically on the older adult population and have covered a range of issues including mental health, dementia, caregiving, elder abuse and injury prevention. Simone has a Masters of Social Work and Master of Arts in Public Administration.
Seniors’ Oral Health: A Canadian Perspective
Lisette Dufour is a registered dental hygienist who graduated in 1985 from Cambrian College in Ontario. Lisette has been employed by the Government of Canada for the last 12 years where she held program management positions. Lisette began with the First Nations and Inuit Health Branch where she led the National Children’s Oral Health Initiative and moved on to the Office of the Chief Dental Officer to coordinate the national First Nations and Inuit Oral Health Surveys. She also spent three years at the Non-Insured Health Benefits (NIHB) where she was given the mandate to create and implement the National Dental Predetermination Centre. Lisette has now returned to the Office of the Chief Dental Officer of Canada where she manages the oral health surveillance from a national perspective amongst other national files. Prior to being employed at the Federal Government, Lisette also worked for five years with a Benefits company as a Senior Dental Claims Specialist. She also worked in the dental hygiene clinical setting for 17 years in northern Ontario and in the national capital region and was also clinician/clinical coordinator at a community college in the Dental Hygiene Program on a part time basis.
Seniors oral health care is an often-overlooked component of seniors’ general health and well-being, yet it is essential for healthy aging and the prevention of a range of diseases and poor health conditions. In Canada, where the vast majority of oral health care procedures are not part of Medicare, current and future seniors have benefited from oral health awareness and greater access to dental services earlier in their lives compared to past generations; the result is that they are keeping their teeth longer and experiencing better oral health than ever before. The perception that tooth loss is a natural outcome of aging no longer holds and the demand for dental health among aging boomers is going to grow. Even seniors without teeth face oral health challenges such as ill-fitting dentures that affect chewing, speaking and smiling leading in turn to poor nutritional and social outcomes. There is also an association between oral disease and a number of systemic health conditions. All of this will have significant implications for dental and general health systems.
Retention of natural teeth results in new patterns of disease and greater challenges for addressing oral health care needs of older adults, especially those who are frail and dependent. In particular, seniors living in long-term care facilities are at particular risk of complications from poor oral health due to high levels of frailty, compromised health and increased dependency on others for personal care. Many facilities are also not equipped or staffed to enable the provision of oral health care services for residents.
This presentation will begin with an overview of the state of seniors’ oral health in Canada. It will present information from the Canadian Health Measures Survey (CHMS) which collected data during 2007-2008 on over 5,600 people (aged 6 – 79) from across Canada. Data were gathered through personal household interviews followed by a direct clinical oral health examination, a physical examination and the drawing the samples for biological testing. The presentation will then provide the results of a review, commissioned by the Office of the Chief Dental Officer (OCDO), of the current (2017) status of access to oral health care for seniors in long term care (LTC). Finally, ongoing and future work being undertaken by OCDO, in collaboration with Canadian partners, to build evidence and address the oral health of Canadian seniors will be discussed.