2017-01-26 / Front Page

UNE students provide dental care training to benefit elderly

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By LIZ GOTTHELF
Staff Writer

BIDDEFORD — Students from University of New England took the knowledge they gained in the classroom to help others with a presentation to St. Andre Health Care Facility staff about dental care for the aging residents on Wednesday.

The group of dental hygiene, occupational therapy and pharmacy students, with help from an Interprofessional Education Collaborative grant, have made presentations at a number of assisted living facilities.

Team Leader Regina Arey, a dental hygiene student, has a personal connection to the work the group is doing.

She said her great-uncle, who she was very close to, was living with Alzheimer’s in an assisted living facility. Though the staff was very compassionate, Arey said, one area of care that was lacking was oral care.

There have been studies that show there is a link between poor oral hygiene and Alzheimer’s disease, Arey said, as oral bacteria can travel through the blood stream and impact the brain.

“Hopefully, through education, (health care) staff will put more priority on dental hygiene,” she said.

Arey and the students gave advice on the proper way to brush teeth as well as an overview of common oral conditions and the effects of some pharmaceuticals on dental health.

They also gave tips on helping patients, such as putting a foam hair curler on a toothbrush to make it easier to grip for patients with limited manual dexterity or using gauze and mouthwash to swipe clean a patient’s mouth when they refuse tooth brushing.

Sue Gagnier, infection control practitioner at St. Andre Health Care, said she thought the presentation was helpful for staff and it was a good refresher and a way to bring awareness to the issue of dental health.

 — Staff Writer Liz Gotthelf can be contacted at 282-1535, ext. 325 or egotthelf@journaltribune.com. 

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