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Bedside dental treatments to reach more in aged care

The dental health and wellbeing of older Australians is set to benefit when a service that brings dentistry not only to the door but the bedside, expands to be nation-wide in the New Year.

Aged care residents don't need to leave their bed to receive dental treatment (Source: Mobile Dental Clinics Australia)
Aged care residents don't need to leave their bed to receive dental treatment (Source: Mobile Dental Clinics Australia)

Mobile Dental Clinics Australia (MDCA) started as a full-time mobile dental service based in Victoria in 2016 and following a year servicing more than 170 aged care facilities, the company is growing to attend to the dental needs of seniors and the elderly Australia-wide.

Director Caitlin Wainrib says while dentistry for the elderly isn’t seen as ‘glamorous’ within the industry, it really brings back the basics of the profession.

“Like all doctors the reason we get into the industry is to help people and care for people and with Mobile Dental Clinics Australia, we can make sure we are caring for the people in aged care and bringing dentistry back to its fundamentals,” Dr Wainrib says.

“It’s not about cosmetics with older people, it’s about making sure they are healthy and have a good quality of life which can be severely impacted if there is poor oral health.

“A lot of people can’t get out of bed, or can’t get into traditional mobile dental vans, so there was a real need there.

“Working in the public sector previously I was aware that there was no funding and a 30 month wait for a visit and this frustrated me so I decided to create my own low-cost option.

“It has been a crazy year to get to where we are - especially from starting as a weekend project while I was working at another job.”

Dr Wainrib says the clinic goes to aged care facilities and even older people in their homes and provides a range of services.

They can provide the treatment in the patient's bed, or on their own portable chair - and even offer x-rays with their portable x-ray machine.

“When older people have bad oral health, it can really impact on their life and what they enjoy - especially if it is preventing them from eating which is often a big enjoyment of people in their later years,” she says.

“Dental infections in aged care can be life-threatening, build-ups of calculus and plaque if they break off and are inhaled can cause aspiration pneumonia which is also potentially deadly.

“We also look after dentures because if someone’s dentures aren’t fitting well or are broken, that can really impact their life too.

As well as offering bedside dental treatment, Dr Wainrib says MDCA have a free advice line for both clients and non-clients - a point of difference from other service, offer aged care staff at the facilities they service oral education training, and attend locations for any number of patients.

More information on Mobile Dental Clinics Australia can be found online, via email or by calling 1300 765 640.

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