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Oral healthcare for older people

We campaign for better oral health for older people across the UK.
We’ve welcomed a report from the Care Quality Commission, highlighting that many people in care homes in England are not getting good oral health care.

The CQC's review of 100 care homes found:
  • 73% of care plans only partly covered or did not cover oral health at all
  • 52% of care homes don’t even have an oral health plan for resident
  • 47% of staff never receiving training on dental care
  • Only in 1 in 100 people with disability or mobility problems are getting access to domiciliary care.  
We are backing CQC’s calls for swift implementation of NICE guidelines among care home providers, and for comprehensive training, and for appropriate commissioning, underpinned by robust needs assessment, to ensure access to services for those who need it most, in the right place at the right time, including mainstream, emergency and domiciliary care. 

What is the BDA doing to improve oral health for older people?


We provided evidence to the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) on a new quality standard for oral health in care homes (2017), which includes:

  • Adults who move into a care home have their mouth care needs assessed on admission
  • Adults living in care homes have their mouth care needs recorded in their personal care plan
  • Adults living in care homes are supported to clean their teeth twice a day and to carry out daily care for their dentures.
In 2012, our Check-up policy document made 21 recommendations to improve the oral healthcare of older adults. 

To date, the BDA considers that only seven of our 2003 recommendations have been met in full, and we continue to work to improve oral health provision for older people. 

Northern Ireland

BDA Northern Ireland continues to highlight the crisis in oral health for older people.

Northern Ireland has the fastest-growing ageing population amongst the UK countries, and the Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency (NISRA) has projected that the number of adults aged 65 and over is to increase by a massive 64% between 2013 and 2033.
BDA has been invited to sit on two Oral Health Options Groups, including one on oral health for older people. These groups have been established by the CDO and give BDA the opportunity to influence future policy around care for older people.


The Public Dental Service (PDS) has concerns about the proposal in the Scottish Government's Oral Health Improvement Plan to allow 'accredited' GDPs to provide care for people in care homes. This role is currently filled by PDS dentists – and it is unclear what role the service will play in the future.

We are working to ensure essential services are appropriately resourced and funded to ensure all patients receive the care they need, in the right place and at the right time. 

This continued reduction in PDS dentists will inevitably have major impacts on patient care, including fewer patient appointments and longer waiting times to see a dentist, and more travel time for patients to access PDS services.


We welcomed a boost to investment in the oral health of people living in care homes in Wales by the Welsh Government in early 2020. But we continue to call for an NHS dental contract that truly concentrates on patients’ needs, and a move away from a targeted-based system, to ensure we can deliver on real prevention for future generations

A 2015 study showed that nearly 73% of residents living in care homes had tooth decay, are less likely than other older adults to brush their teeth or dentures twice a day and more likely to only attend a dentist when they experience a problem. 


We will continue to call on the Welsh Assembly to ensure the right provision for older people to ensure real prevention and that older people's oral health is safeguarded.


Keep up to date

To keep up to date with our work, read our latest blogs.

If you'd like a briefing on any of these issues or to know more, please get in touch


Useful resources

​Campaigning for better oral health

When it comes to oral health, we believe in prevention first: tooth decay is an avoidable disease and we are campaigning for Government's to take this problem seriously, to act now and invest in real prevention. 


Read our latest blogs on the topic of public health in dentistry.

Through our policy and campaigning work, we ensure that the concerns of all sections of the profession are raised and that dentists' voices are heard at a national level.


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