Oral health improvement programme continues at Ravenswood

21 August 2019

Residents at Ravenswood have even more reason to show off their pearly whites, thanks to the continued funding of an oral health improvement programme for a further three years.

The Alpha Omega Charitable Trust, which has been supporting the project since 2014 at Ravenswood, and the Berkshire Community Dental Service, which has been delivering it to all the residents, has seen some very successful outcomes over the past five years.

Helen Pailthorpe, specialist in special care dentistry and head of service Berkshire Community Dental Service, says: “The programme has been very effective in raising staff awareness of the importance of good oral health. That in turn has meant that tooth brushing has become an integral part of daily health care rather than an optional extra. Residents are booked recall appointments as agreed in their oral care plan. Our dental team has noticed an improvement in oral hygiene in many residents and less dental disease. It also means that dental disease is less prevalent and is treated earlier.”

She continues: “The residents have a wide range of abilities and behaviours and some find it very difficult to cooperate for an examination never mind treatment. When they have problems, we have to be inventive and ‘think outside the box’ in order to provide dental treatment. We have examined residents in the dental chair, in the corridor or waiting room, in the car outside or at their home. Some we are unable to examine at all without intravenous sedation or general anaesthetic.”

With one patient, an adult with learning disabilities, autism and challenging behaviour, Helen describes how her and her team really had to think on their feet. She says: “The staff thought he had dental pain as his behaviour was becoming worse. It was decided that he needed a general anaesthetic for an examination and treatment but there were a few hurdles to overcome. The resident would get in a car but it would take staff up to an hour to encourage him to get out at his destination. He doesn’t like clinics or hospitals and becomes anxious. So we had to come up with a plan to get him to the hospital and out of the car without delay as ‘anaesthetists wait for no patient!’ The staff introduced him to sitting in a wheelchair and practised regularly. I set up a sedation trial with the staff in order to get the right level of sedation and for the correct duration for his journey to the hospital. With great teamwork from the staff at Ravenswood and the dental team, the plan worked and the patient underwent a general anaesthetic to have some fillings and a couple of extractions. Success!

“For all residents, it is the day-to-day oral care to prevent dental disease which is paramount,” concludes Helen.

Professor Andrew Eder, chair of the Alpha Omega London Charitable Trust, which is funding the oral health improvement programme, said: “We are immensely proud to be supporting the oral health improvement programme. This initiative will hopefully see a substantial improvement in the oral health of residents at the Ravenswood Village, leading to less tooth decay and better gum health which can together impact positively on one’s general health. We look forward to the programme’s continued success in the years ahead.”