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article imageD.E.A.R. raises awareness of dental elder abuse Special

By Rob Campbell     Feb 16, 2014 in Health
Toronto - Dental elder abuse and neglect occurs when a person or system fails to provide necessary dental care for an older adult. Today nearly 30% of all Canadian seniors have untreated tooth decay (dental caries).
On the sunny Friday afternoon that was January 31st 2014, Dr Natalie Archer, a Toronto dentist at Archer Dental officially launched the Dental Elder Abuse Response Project (D.E.A.R.) with help from her mentors, federal and provincial politicians, members of the media, and her own dental colleagues at Runnymede Hospital.
You should have seen all the important people crowding the podium, and later at the ribbon cutting; it was a veritable Who's Who in Toronto health care.
First and foremost at the podium and standing right beside Dr Archer the whole time was her new friend and D.E.A.R. co-founder Laura Tamblyn - Watts, Senior Fellow , Canadian Centre for Elder Law, and Law and Aging Theme Team Leader, NICE Network.
Next up was Rev. Dr. Cheri DiNovo, MPP Parkdale High Park who had already circulated around the room meeting and greeting people and then presented Dr Archer and Laura Tamblyn - Watts with a Certificate from Parliament recognizing the D.E.A.R. project. Following her with pride was Connie Dejak, CEO of Runnymede Healthcare Centre who commended Archer for her compassion and excellence in care to both the hospital patients and to the community - she managed to say quite a lot in a short amount of time.
Dr. Daniel Haas, Professor and Dean at the University of Toronto Faculty of Dentistry spoke at the podium in support of D.E.A.R. and described its importance both from an academic perspective and as a teaching tool. He was followed by his former student, Dr. Harold Rosenberg DDS President of West Toronto Dental Society who said nice things about his old professor as he reminisced of years past under the mentorship of Dr. Haas. Both of these highly respected administrators spoke fondly of Archer’s outstanding work and her receipt of the Ontario Dental Association Award of Merit.
Coming in like a flash was the powerful speaker Peggy Nash, MP Parkdale High Park who took the house with her acknowledgement that the D.E.A.R. project was much needed and a welcome initiative to bring the community together and make it a better place to live.
The Dental Elder Abuse Response Project (D.E.A.R.) is a real life response to the fact that many older adults suffer terrible abuse and neglect related to oral hygiene. Sadly its often at the hands of well meaning people who love them the most.
“Today is a special milestone,” Dr Archer told her audience who had gathered at the Runnymede Health Care Centre. “The Dental Elder Abuse Response program has been a long time coming." Indeed it started in Dr Archer's mind when she was a mobile dentist specializing in wheel chair dentistry. She saw a lot of things that she couldn't easily ignore or forget. Over the months and years she laid out her response.
Launched with Federal support, the D.E.A.R. program, unique in Canada, raises our collective awareness to this particularly heinous and hidden form of elder abuse by distributing educational materials which point out the symptoms and signs of dental neglect and suffering in seniors. The response group also forms a network of dentists and people concerned about dental elder abuse, such as other seniors, dentists, caregivers and old and young members of families - these people will take the message back to the community and let folks know that such suffering in our seniors should not be tolerated, by anyone.
“What inspired me to create this is that I’ve been fortunate to have met people who the average dentist hasn’t as a mobile dentist. When you see something over and over again, it affects you, you want to do something,” said Dr Natalie Archer, who has treated patients in long-term care facilities, nursing homes, hospitals and their homes.
Archer joined forces with lawyer Laura Tamblyn Watts, a senior fellow at the Canadian Centre for Elder Law, whose focus is on elder law issues. Working with dentists, hygienists, seniors, caregivers and community organizations, the D.E.A.R. project will create senior peer-trained workshops, online videos, brochures and checklists to provide practical, hands-on material on how to recognize and prevent dental elder abuse and neglect in the Greater Toronto Area. Dental elder abuse and neglect occurs when a person – or system – fails to provide the necessary dental care for an older adult. According to D.E.A.R. project statistics, nearly one third of older adults have untreated tooth decay and 50 per cent of those over 75 years of age have root decay. Left untreated, this condition could lead to dental abscesses, which could lead to more serious infections, and even death.
Seniors suffer from a variety of issues including, darkened teeth, dry mouth, root decay, gum disease, tooth loss, denture-induced stomatitis, ill-fitting dentures, thrush and the overgrowth of the fungus Candida albicans in the mouth. Age in and of itself is not a dominant factor in determining oral health, however, certain medical conditions, such as arthritis in the hands and fingers, may make brushing or flossing teeth difficult to impossible to perform. Drugs can also affect oral health and may make a change in your dental treatment necessary.
Oral health is essential to general health and quality of life. It is a state of being free from mouth and facial pain, oral and throat cancer, oral infection and sores, tooth loss and other diseases that prevent or restrict a person's capacity for biting and chewing , smiling and speaking.
Oral health is important to the overall well-being of older adults, and on the 31st of January these people are came forward to take a bite out of dental abuse. Post by Robert Campbell, Feb 15th 2014
More about Toronto dentist, Dr Natalie Archer, dental elder abuse, oral hygene, Dear
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