Inside Dentistry
Jul/Aug 2007
Volume 3, Issue 7

Orallongevity™ Engages Patients, Caregivers, and Dental Professionals

GlaxoSmithKline and ADA Announce Partnership to Educate on Needs of Older Population

GlaxoSmithKline Consumer Healthcare (Pittsburgh, PA), the American Dental Association (ADA, Chicago, IL), and the ADA Foundation (Chicago, IL) have teamed up to create OralLongevity™, a new initiative to increase awareness about the need to enhance and preserve oral health in older Americans. The program aims to educate lay audiences—including older Americans, their families, and caregivers, as well as elder and consumer advocates—through content distributed and taught by oral health professionals.

"The goal of OralLongevity is to create a dialogue between patients, caregivers, and oral health professionals," says Ronald Rupp, DMD, senior manager of professional relations for GlaxoSmithKline Consumer Healthcare. "There are a lot of miscon-ceptions about oral care among the senior population, and the issue is not always top-of-mind for caregivers. OralLongevity will bring patients into the dental office, where they can receive information and guidance from trusted professionals."

OralLongevity will be showcased to dental professionals at the ADA Annual Session in San Francisco in September, during which an educational track on oral health and healthy aging will be presented. The partnership will also launch a number of educational components including a DVD, a brochure, and a special supplement of the Journal of the American Dental Association (JADA) that offers continuing education, distributed to JADA subscribers and to Annual Session attendees in San Francisco at the OralLongevity Exhibit # 1703. A special Web site (www.orallongevity.ada.org) will be available this fall for viewing the DVD and other educational content.

As health professionals are aware, the initiative comes at a time when the number of older Americans is increasing at an unprecedented rate. The US Department of Health and Human Services reports that by 2030, the number of older persons in America will be more than twice what it was in 2000. As the country grapples with broad public health issues like diabetes, nutrition, and medication use, OralLongevity will focus on the impact these issues can have on oral health. Educational materials will educate patients and dental professionals on issues of importance to seniors, including periodontal disease, xerostomia, increased caries risk, and edentulism.

"With the emphasis and attention in the dental community often given to esthetic treatments and high-profile techniques for younger patients," says Dr. Rupp, "it can be easy to overlook the importance of senior care. But dental professionals know that the coming years are likely to bring major demographic changes to their practices, and it is important to continually review and practice skills in caring for older patients."

The educational track at the ADA Annual Session will include six lectures and a full-day seminar, led by a number of prominent practitioners in dentistry and elder care. Dr. Gregory Folse, a frequent lecturer on geriatric dentistry, will present two courses: "Geriatric Patients: Treatment in Your Office" and "Difficult Dentures: Real-World Solutions." Dr. Randy Huffines, a faculty member of the University of North Carolina School of Dentistry, will present "Root Caries: Proven Techniques for Frustrating Situations" and "The Older Dental Hygiene Patient." Dr. Harold Crossley will lecture on the topic of xerostomia, and Drs. John Hellstein and John Kalmar will lead a session on bisphosphonates and jaw osteonecrosis.

The continuing education track will culminate in a panel discussion moderated by Dr. Huffines and featuring Dr. Gordon Christensen, as well as Drs. Folse, Thomas Abrahamsen, Karen Crews, and Gretchen Gibson. The panel will address how aging patients can present challenges to the dental team with an array of medical and dental conditions that negatively impact oral health. Attendees will learn clinical concepts and techniques to help patients achieve healthy oral longevity. The track will wrap up with case presentations by Drs. Crews, Crossley, Folse, and Huffines. The presentations offer attendees the opportunity to see how the issues and treatment plans presented in the courses at the ADA Annual Session impact doctors and patients on a daily basis and to follow a patient’s treatment from start to finish.

After the programming at the ADA Annual Session, educational materials will be available for professionals to bring the program back to their practices and communities. One of the most versatile educational components, the OralLongevity DVD, will include searchable chapters on various oral health topics. The disc will include information on topics such as aging dentition, dentin hypersensitivity, daily mouth care, nutrition, the oral/systemic connection, dry mouth management, the realities of denture wear, and reducing oral cancer risk. Practices will be able to use the DVD to provide targeted education in a number of oral health issues.

By targeting its efforts to caregivers as well as seniors, OralLongevity aims to incorporate patients’ families and health assistants into their health care team. The program’s specific target of community-dwelling, semi-dependent older Americans encompasses individuals living at home, with a relative, in a senior apartment complex, or a group home—all circumstances in which families and caregivers can play a significant role in the individual’s health care decisions.

"Families and caregivers can have a big impact on their loved ones’ health habits," says Dr. Rupp. "This program encourages them to be involved and proactive in the patient’s oral health, which can result in increased compliance and perhaps even better overall health."

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