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Louisiana Dentist Travels to Treat the Elderly in Nursing Homes

May 14, 2014

Dr. Greg Folse has made a career of providing dental care for people in Louisiana nursing homes, traveling as far as 80 miles from his practice in Lafayette to help those who otherwise wouldn’t receive care.

“Elderly patients to me are a joy and a blessing to treat,” said Dr. Folse. “I have thoroughly enjoyed providing services to these nursing home patients who otherwise wouldn’t get in to a dental office. Also, the nursing home patient base as a whole is extremely appreciative of even the smallest things that we do.”

Recognizing that nearly 1.3 million nursing home residents face the greatest challenges to accessing dental care of any group in America, dentists across the country are adopting nursing homes in their communities, with the cost of care offset by a provision in Medicaid. Although commonly used for eye glasses and hearing aids, its use for dental care is less frequent, but helps nursing home residents get dental care they might not otherwise receive.

To help educate dentists interested in providing care for nursing home residents, the American Dental Association (ADA) is offering online training featuring members of the National Elder Care Advisory Committee, of which Dr. Folse is a member. 

“Dentistry in Long-term Care: Creating Pathways to Success,” is a nine-module, self-paced online course that highlights long-term care delivery models, regulatory and legal compliance, creating and organizing an oral health program, working with complex patients, financial considerations in nursing homes, establishing an environment where effective daily mouth care occurs, and accessing scientific literature.  The course will be available online this summer.

Dr. Folse’s dental team travels to nursing homes and sets up a space to treat people with portable equipment. They provide prosthetics, extractions, preventive and limited restorative care.

He noted it is important to provide care to all residents, regardless of their financial means, as well as ensuring the nursing home complies with federal and state regulations pertaining to dental care.

“The aspect of this model that has the most impact on the daily oral hygiene of my patients is to be there routinely,” said Dr. Folse. “You’re looking at an average of three to four visits to every facility per month. That keeps a dental presence in front of the (nursing home) staff routinely.”