The key to a Happier, Healthier Life in Care Homes? It’s all in the Smile
Why does smiling actually matter, and what do teeth have to do with it?
Beyond the obvious ties to hygiene, oral wellbeing plays a vital role in holistic health and happiness. Birchwood couldn’t agree more – because smiling does matter. We want to make sure that residents not only have a reason to smile each day, but the capability to do so too, and be proud of their amazing smiles.
Teeth can be a point of pride. They form the basis of any winning smile, a boost in serotonin and shared joy.
Teeth can be a facilitator of fun. They enable residents to talk and connect, create a community and take part in the conversation.
Teeth can be a conqueror of culinary delights. They help residents to enjoy their favourite meals with ease, bringing them both flavour and nutrition.
So, it’s clear – teeth are more than just teeth, and mouths are more than just mouths. Smiling matters too much for oral health to be considered an afterthought. When it can be the decider between days filled with pain or pleasure, discomfort or confidence, oral health must be front of mind.
Now that we understand why smiling matters, we can start to learn how to keep those lips upturned across care homes and make oral health a priority.
How do we stay on top of oral health care?
To start, Birchwood House always keeps a close eye on industry publications and advice, such as the recent Care Quality Commission (CQC) driven improvement ‘Smiling Matters’ and NICE guidelines. Home Manager, Tina Payne, has developed new oral health assessment and care plans for individual person-centred care need to be implemented across Birchwood House. This initiative takes the best of CQC’s advice – like tailoring dental attention and prioritising personal, progressive assessments – and puts it into action where it benefits residents most.
Care homes can make differences both minor and major by paying attention to residents’ oral health and promoting proactive mouth care like smart brushing. Brushing twice daily is an essential form of preventative dental care, as it removes plaque and breaks down buildup that can lead to tooth decay and gum disease. Gingivitis and periodontitis are examples of complex dental issues prevalent for the elderly that can be minimised by simple, proactive dental care as easy as brushing. Happy, healthy mouths help residents to be their best, happy, healthy selves.
When it comes to oral health care, carers remain at the heart of service delivery. It’s important to ensure staff are trained in what to look for, but also, how it differs for every resident. Birchwood’s qualified team of carers bring a wealth of experience in assisting residents to maintain their dignity and independence where possible whilst ensuring their personal hygiene and care routines are carried out to keep them looking and feeling their best.
Regularity is key in oral care
Our team of carers at Birchwood House are also trained to carry out regular mouth checks, taking note of any bleeding, wounds, tongue colouring, or loose teeth. When regularity falls behind, that’s when problems go unnoticed and oral health can stop flourishing and start to deteriorate. It can be tricky to fit around competing priorities, but Birchwood House has found that making the time and creating a routine around these oral health checks keeps everyone accountable, so that no smile slips through the cracks.
The Oral Health Foundation’s National Smile Month is right around the corner and is the perfect reason to join Birchwood House and get involved in sharing the joy of a happy, healthy smile for all. The foundation’s dental helpline is also a great resource available on 08450 631 188.