A support worker’s guide to...

A support worker’s guide to...

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A support worker’s guide to good oral health

This week we’re celebrating Dental Health Week!

You don’t have to be a dentist to have a positive impact on someone’s oral health.

If you support someone to maintain their health and wellbeing, you play a vital role in helping them prevent mouth problems that can cause pain and discomfort.

Recently, The Tipping Foundation collaborated with Dental Health Services Victoria (DHSV) looking at ways to promote good oral health in disability services. Tipping staff played an important role in the development of DHSV’s new online oral health platform, Supporting every smile.

People with disability experience more oral health problems than people without disability. Compared to the general population, people with an intellectual disability have:

  • poorer oral hygiene
  • higher plaque levels
  • more severe gum disease
  • higher rates of untreated tooth decay
  • higher numbers of teeth removed

An unhealthy mouth can cause pain and discomfort which can impact speaking, eating and sleeping or cause behavioural changes, such as low self-esteem, aggression or withdrawal.

supporting every smileSupporting every smile has a comprehensive collection of oral health information, resources, strategies and tips to help workers support the oral health of people with disability. These include Easy Read fact sheets and how to brush guides and videos, all designed to help support positive approaches to oral health care.

The skills and strategies used when providing support can have a big influence on the success of a person’s daily mouth care routine. Consider what you do to support someone with their mouth care. Is there anything you can do to improve this support?

If you are a support worker, you might consider:

  • Is daily mouth care happening twice a day? If not, what needs to change to make this happen?
  • Do you know how to support someone’s daily mouth care? Consider developing an oral health care plan.
  • Work out which parts of the oral care routine the person you support can do independently and which parts they need help with.
  • Does the person you support wear dentures? Make sure you know how to care for dentures.
  • When supporting daily mouth care, be alert to changes in the look or smell of a person’s mouth. This may be a sign of oral disease.

Check out EverySmile.dhsv.org.au to find out more about what you can do to support good oral health.

Posted in Blog, News & Events