Inside Dentistry
Nov/Dec 2007
Volume 3, Issue 10

OralLongevity™ launches at ADA Annual Session

GlaxoSmithKline and ADA Initiative Will Educate on Needs of Older Population

OralLongevity™, a new public and professional education initiative by GlaxoSmithKline Consumer Healthcare (Pittsburgh, PA), the American Dental Association (ADA), and the ADA Foundation, was met with strong interest at its launch during the ADA Annual Session in San Francisco. The initiative, which aims to increase awareness about the need to enhance and preserve oral health in older Americans, was introduced with a special educational track during the session and an exhibit in the ADA World Marketplace. Over the coming year, the program will seek to educate lay audiences, including older Americans, their families and caregivers, as well as elder and consumer advocates.

“We’re pleased to have had such interest shown in the program at the session,” Ronald L. Rupp, DMD, US professional relations for GlaxoSmithKline Consumer Healthcare. “The program intends to provide leadership in promoting oral healthcare to older Americans via self-care, caregivers, and by the dentists and their teams. It’s evident that dental professionals recognize the challenges they’ll face in coming decades with the aging population, and they’re preparing now to be able to provide the best care for older adults.”

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 is focusing on the impact these issues can have on oral health. The educational materials, available in both English and Spanish, instruct patients and dental professionals on issues of importance to seniors, including periodontal disease, xerostomia, and edentulism.

“This program aims to encourage communication between patients, caregivers, and oral health professionals,” said Dr. Rupp. “We know that oral health isn’t always top-of-mind for caregivers or seniors, but there are many oral health issues that can have a serious impact on a senior’s overall health, quality of life and well-being. We want to remind them to come to the dental office, where they can ask questions and receive oral health guidance from trusted professionals.”

The educational track at the ADA session offered attendees the chance to attend six lecture courses, a daylong panel discussion, and a half-day case study session on a variety of issues related to the oral health of seniors. Leading clinicians and researchers presented lectures and case studies during the session. Dr. Gregory Folse, a frequent lecturer on geriatric dentistry, offered two courses during the session: “Geriatric Patients: Treatment in Your Office,” and “Difficult Dentures: Real-World Situations.” Dr. Randy Huffines, a faculty member of the University of North Carolina School of Dentistry, presented both “Root Caries: Proven Techniques for Frustrating Situations,” and “The Older Dental Hygiene Patient.” Dr. Harold Crossley spoke on the topic of xerostomia, and Drs. John Hellstein and John Kalmar led a session on bisphosphonates and jaw osteonecrosis.

“The coming years will bring major demographic changes to dental practices,” said Dr. Folse. “Based on the feedback and questions we received during lectures, we’re seeing that dentists are meeting this challenge with energy, a drive to learn, and a strong wish to serve their patients in the best way they possibly can.”

The capstone offering of the CE track was 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 discussed the challenges of treating aging patients, and the array of age-related medical and dental conditions that negatively impact oral health. Attendees were instructed in clinical concepts and techniques to implement in their practices to better serve senior patients.

“We received tremendous feedback from clinicians attending the CE sessions,” said Dr. Rupp. “They feel excited to go back to their communities and practices and put what they’ve learned to use. We want to get an oral health dialogue started in senior communities, and the attendees are telling us they are eager to begin.”  

ADA members and journal subscribers received a special 56-page continuing education supplement on oral health and the aging population in the September issue of The Journal of the American Dental Association. The issue also included an educational DVD and brochure, which highlights the importance of lifelong oral health. The OralLongevity DVD, one of the most versatile educational components in the program, includes an introduction from ADA President Kathleen Roth, DDS, and searchable chapters on various oral health topics targeted to older Americans. Professionals are able to select chapters on such topics as the aging dentition, daily mouth care, nutrition, the oral/systemic connection, dry mouth control, the realities of denture wear, and reducing oral cancer risk. Both the continuing education supplement and the DVD are downloadable for free on the ADA’s Web site, www.orallongevity.ada.org.

“The launch of this initiative marks the first time that easily accessible educational resources and tools for senior’s oral health are available to a national market,” said Dr. Roth. “We’re pleased to be a part of this effort to meet the needs of dentists, allied dental team members, seniors, and their family members and caregivers.”

By targeting its efforts to caregivers as well as seniors, OralLongevity aims to incorporate patients’ families and other care providers into their oral health support 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 in a group home—all circumstances in which families and caregivers can play a significant role in the individual’s healthcare decisions.

“A senior’s health habits can be strongly influenced by families and caregivers,” said Dr. Rupp. “OralLongevity provides a link between the professional, the patient, and the patient’s loved ones, which helps everyone to be more involved and encourages better communication. The end goal is to increase the quality of life for seniors by improving their oral health.”

Oral Longevity Booth at the 2007 ADA Annual Session. Pictured: Colin I. Mackenzie, VP Marketing, Oral Care, GlaxoSmithKline; Dr. Ronald Rupp, US Professional Relations, GSK; Dr. Kathleen Roth, President, ADA; Greg Bradley, VP Consumer & Professional Sales-Marketing, GSK; Jeffrey Riggs, GSK.

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