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ADA Long-term Dental Campaign aims to reduce barriers to care

November 03, 2014

By Stacie Crozier

With a goal to reduce barriers to dental care for some 1.3 million nursing home residents in the U.S., the ADA has launched a Long-term Care Dental Campaign designed to assist state dental associations to create successful initiatives and to train more dentists to serve at facilities as care providers, advisors and dental directors.

The campaign is an initiative of the ADA's Action for Dental Health, a nationwide, community-based movement aimed at ending the dental health crisis facing America today.

Representatives from the National Elder Care Advisory Committee, a subcommittee of the ADA Council on Access, Prevention and Interprofessional Relations, hosted a training session Sept. 26 in Chicago for state dental society representatives.

"It was great to be able to meet with staff and volunteers from so many states that have decided to work on improving the oral health of people living in long-term care facilities, said Dr. Paul Glassman, NECAC chair and one of the presenters for the session. Dr. Glassman is also a professor at the University of the Pacific Arthur A. Dugoni School of Dentistry as well as director of community oral health and the Pacific Center for Special Care. "Collectively we have a real opportunity to help dentists and dental team members work successfully with staff and facilities and improve oral health with people living in long-term care facilities."

Photo of Dr. Glassman
New campaign: Dr. Paul Glassman, chair of the National Elder Care Advisory Committee, welcomes state dental society participants to ADA Headquarters Sept. 26 for a day long session on long-term care. The daylong meeting is part of the ADA's Long-term Care Dental Campaign, which also includes an online continuing education course.
The daylong meeting offered representatives from nine states information on creating successful coalitions, developing long-term care resources for their members and taking a leadership role in long-term care policy and advocacy in their states. Participants were also able to share their questions, concerns and success stories during a lunchtime networking session.

"Although creating a coalition isn't a quick or easy project, the new partnerships that are formed can provide the resources and influence needed to accomplish things that we just can't get done by ourselves," said Dr. Michael Helgeson, a NECAC member and meeting presenter. Dr. Helgeson is CEO of Apple Tree Dental, a nonprofit dental organization in Minnesota. "The long-term care initiative is an important first step as dentistry responds to the rapid growth of the elderly population. Preparing to meet the needs of people who live in nursing facilities will also help dental professionals serve community dwelling seniors and find ways to keep them in their practices well into old age."

Dr. Melodee Armfield, a member of the Kansas Dental Association executive committee, said the ADA helped the Kansas participants understand the legislative changes they need in the state to better address the needs of patients in long-term care.

Photo of Dr. HelgesonPhoto of Dr. Armfield
Dialogue: Dr. Michael Helgeson, a presenter, and Dr. Melodee Armfield, a participant, discuss strategies states can use to build a coalition to address the oral health needs of people who live in long-term care facilities.
"This is a very hot topic to address as our population ages and the baby boomer generation moves into long-term care," said Dr. Armfield. "We have to realize that many of them have their own teeth with crowns, bridges and even implants. Their dental care directly affects the longevity of these restorations. We have all seen the deterioration of our patients' mouths as they age and go to long-term care facilities. They have difficulties getting up to a sink to brush and need assistance to perform their oral hygiene properly. We need to advocate for our patients so they can continue to enjoy good oral hygiene throughout their golden years."
The Long-term Care Dental Campaign also includes a self-paced online continuing education course through the ADA Center for Professional Success at

Dentistry in Long-term Care: Pathways to Success, is an eight-module course designed to help oral health professionals become more comfortable providing care in long-term care settings and to create successful and sustainable oral health delivery programs that serve nursing home residents.

Participants will receive 10 CE credits when they complete the course. The modules cover topics that include the structure and organization of long-term care facilities; choosing an appropriate delivery model; regulatory and legal compliance; creating and organizing an oral health program; working with complex patients; treatment planning; financial considerations in long-term care; establishing an environment for effective daily mouth care; and accessing the scientific literature.

For more details on the course or to register, visit Cost for ADA members is $475 and $650 for nonmembers. Up to three additional staff members can register for $150 per person. (Team members must register at the same time as the dentist for this reduced rate.)

Each dental office that registers will receive one complimentary copy of the training program, Overcoming Obstacles to Oral Health ($195 value). The program includes a CD-ROM and DVD with printable forms, tests, manuals, workbooks and videos designed to train caregivers about oral health for frail elderly people and people with disabilities.

For more details on the Long-term Care Dental Campaign, contact Barbara Smith, Ph.D., manager, Geriatric and Special Needs Populations for CAPIR, by calling the ADA toll-free number, ext. 2697 or emailing