The Care Inspectorate today welcomed new guidance on oral care for older people in care homes. The new publication is produced by NHS Education for Scotland. The resource, Caring for Smiles – A Guide for Care Homes, has been developed in collaboration with key stakeholders and is endorsed by the Care Inspectorate.

 The Caring for Smiles Guide for Care Homes emphasises the importance of providing person-centred, safe and effective care by detailing the importance of individual oral health risk assessments, providing daily oral care specific to residents’ needs and describing the associated links between poor oral health and systemic disease.

The resource will support the training delivered by NHS teams and serve as a reference for oral health information and best practice relevant to older people.  It will be distributed to all care homes that participate in the training programme.

Annette Bruton, Chief Executive of the Care Inspectorate, said: 

"Everyone has the right to care that reflects their needs and promotes their rights - especially when they are dependent on others for their care. All providers should support good oral health as part of high-quality care for people using services. This resource will help staff caring for vulnerable people, and I hope it will be of significant use. We expect every care home in Scotland to operate to the highest standards, and this type of guidance is a helpful step towards that."

Maura Edwards, Consultant in Dental Public Health and Chair of National Older People’s Oral Health Improvement Group which developed Caring for Smiles, said: 

“Older people living in care homes are at a significantly higher risk of oral health problems and related conditions than the rest of the population because of higher levels of dependency and dementia related conditions.”

Tom Ferris, Deputy Chief Dental Officer, Scottish Government said: 

“A clean, healthy mouth is fundamental to everyone’s quality of life.  Oral diseases and conditions are not only painful and distressing, they have an impact on a person’s ability to eat and speak, and are increasingly being linked to a number of serious health problems.”