With over a million people in the UK predicted to be living with dementia by 2025, the condition already affects 5% of the population and an increasing number of patients receiving primary dental care. FGDP(UK) has been working with a wide range of organisations over recent years to understand how best to adapt dental practice to provide the best care for these patients, culminating in the publication of Dementia-Friendly Dentistry: Good Practice Guidelines in October 2017.
Dementia is complex, profoundly affecting memory and a patient’s ability to communicate, yet no two cases progress in the same manner. Practice teams increasingly need to understand the condition and respond to the needs of patients suffering from it, and our guidance explores the implications of the disease for the management and care of patients, as well as wider considerations for dental practices and care in other settings.
FGDP(UK) first convened a conference on oral healthcare for the elderly population, bringing together dentists with representatives of Age UK, The Kings Fund, BUPA and the Care Quality Commission, in 2013. The following year, a seminar on the interface between dementia and oral health was organised in collaboration with the Alzheimer's Society, Public Health England, the Royal Pharmaceutical Society and Newcastle University. In 2016, representatives of FGDP(UK), the Alzheimer’s Society, the British Dental Association, Public Health England and the Special Care Dentistry sector were convened to develop guidance for dentists on caring for patients with dementia, with review provided by representatives of the Dental Defence Union and Care Quality Commission, and with over 50 organisations and individuals commenting on the draft.
Through its advocacy work, FGDP(UK) also campaigns for wider improvements to the oral health of the older population, in particular those in care homes, where oral health is frequently neglected. FGDP(UK) supports the NICE Quality Standard on Oral Health Promotion in Care Homes, for which Paul Batchelor, FGDP(UK) Vice-Dean and Editor of Dementia-Friendly Dentistry: Good Practice Guidelines, was a member of the Advisory Committee, and which FGDP(UK) contributed to at various stages.
Printed copies of Dementia-Friendly Dentistry: Good Practice Guidelines were distributed free of charge to all FGDP(UK) members in 2017, and it is also available to purchase through the FGDP(UK) online shop either as an individual item or as part of our complete set of guidance and standards publications. The guidance is also available free of charge as part of FGDP(UK) Standards Online.
We intend to continue working with stakeholders to develop accompanying materials for the benefit of the profession and their patients.