We begin our life journey with no teeth, and it was accepted that we complete our life journey edentulous. This may have been the norm maybe 20 years ago, but not today. The Dental Profession plays an important role in ensuring quality of life for individuals, especially in the later years. Eating, speaking and generally feeling good about one’s appearance is intrinsically linked to having good dentition. In the 8020 campaign which promotes having at least 20 teeth present at the age of 80, is a goal that we as the dental profession should endeavour to achieve for our population. Proper planning on a national level involving dentists, oral health therapists and dental support staff is crucial to ensure acceptable quality of care in oral health from birth to the end of life.
Periodontitis is the major cause of tooth loss in adults which will have a direct impact on a person’s masticatory function, nutrition and aesthetic appearance which are all linked to a person’s quality of life (QoL). This presentation will discuss how periodontal disease impacts the various conceptual domains of QoL based on the latest scientific evidence, as well as assessing the current instruments used for measuring this relationship. An in-depth analysis on the clinical application of such a health status measure in our daily clinical practice will also be discussed, with special emphasis on its relevance from an Oral Health Therapist’s perspective.
The role of the oral health therapist continues to evolve as Singapore enters a rapidly ageing society. By 2035, one third of Singaporeans will be aged 65 and above. This demographic shift places pressure on our society with a shrinking workforce supporting an ageing population. The medical complexities, compounded with its social intricacies, will pose in managing the oral health of the aged in the community and intermediate long-term care (ILTC) facilities. The talk will focus on the research that has been done in other developed countries on the roles that the oral health therapist can play in this new landscape, and how this can be translated to the local healthcare setting.
Oral health therapists (OHTs) in schools, public institutions or private practices, work closely with children and young persons. Therefore, they are dental professionals with a pivotal role in child protection. In 2021, amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, the number of Singapore child abuse cases reached the highest in the past decade. There are key changes in the local child protection system in recent years, especially 2021. It is therefore imperative to update the dental team including dentists, OHTs, dental therapists, hygienists, and dental assistants.
In the UK, safeguarding children, young people and vulnerable adults is mandatory training for dentists, with refreshers every 3 years. Like other UK paediatric dentists/trainees, Ruixiang completed the Child Protection Training (Levels 1, 2, and 3) during his training at Guy’s, King’s and St Thomas’ hospitals. At KK Women’s and Children Hospital (KKH), he works closely with the medical team, social workers and at times, the MSF Child Protection Officers, to attend to the oral care needs of children with child abuse, neglect, complex social background or medical/special needs. Therefore, he will provide an overview of what child protection and child abuses entails, key updates in the local Child Protection scene, and insights from his learning/work experience in both UK and Singapore. Recognising that >50% of physically abused children may have orofacial signs, he believes firmly that while the dental team is not responsible for making a diagnosis of child abuse, we should share concerns appropriately.
Using pictures and animations, Ruixiang aims to make this talk informative as well as relatable and understandable for the audience. He hopes this will inspire the OHTs in Singapore and the region to be another voice for vulnerable children.
Dental caries is a preventable non-communicable disease and the causal biological mechanisms have been established in the literature. In this presentation the individual, family and community social influences of dental caries in children will be explained in a conceptual framework. A holistic view of the complexities of children’s oral health will be explained to guide clinicians, future research and promote collaboration for the betterment of children’s oral health. Understanding the social complexities will be linked to modern approaches of prevention with Silver Fluoride and the practical application for child patients. Silver fluoride products for caries prevention and atraumatic management of caries will be overviewed and the practical use of these products for clinicians outlined.
Careers are filled with opportunities and choices that often lead to unexpected places and experiences. The ability to assess opportunity and risk in an attempt to achieve career success, instigate change and make some difference can be challenging and at times can mean you are a singular voice. Change in our profession (oral health therapy) is essential to maintain workforce appropriateness, improve and manage educational opportunities, ensure relevant dental and oral health services, and effect oral health and general health policy.
The ability to see an opportunity for change, conduct research and develop strategies to design, deliver and evaluate that opportunity for change can provide a framework to lead and inspire. Leaders have the ability to see beyond the now and into the future, this is a vital component of leadership and a tool that enables career opportunities.
The Senior Smiles program was developed as an opportunity to influence change, this is my preventive oral health program for older people living in residential aged care facilities delivered by dental hygienists/oral health therapists/dental therapists. This is translational research and the only program of its type in Australia that is supported by extensive research and an economic analysis.
As health care professionals we have the ability to support our patients with self-healing practices that can enhance their quality of life, and ours simultaneously. Prevention passion with a purpose nourishes the mouth and mind by going beyond prevention and by supplementing the physical. During this session, we will return to our core as health healers and collectively motivate and create together an understanding of how we can take care of the mind for the mouth, and the mouth for the mind.
The most common neurological disorders in Singapore include stroke, dementia and Parkinson’s disease. As the number of elderly increases, we can expect an increase in the numbers of patients with neurodegenerative disease in our dental clinic. A good understanding of these conditions is important so that we can care for our patients better and deliver treatment appropriately. Special attention should also be given to reinforcing preventive care and involving caregivers so as to ensure our patients maintain a good oral-health quality of life.
In 2021 the World Dental Federation (FDI) announced that they would lead the charge on sustainability in dentistry together with 5 industry partners, including TePe Oral Hygiene Products. One of the reasons for this initiative, is that healthcare – including oral care – is responsible for around 5% of the total global greenhouse gas emissions. Earlier this year FDI published a consensus that highlighted several issues that lies beyond the dental professional’s control, such as manufacturing of dental equipment, choice of materials, and waste management. It also highlighted that the dental professional’s main objectives are preventative care and high-quality dentistry. This will in the long run will reduce the emissions, since these actions lead to less operative appointments and therefore less use of material and less waste, but more importantly is that it will increase quality of life for our patients.
For us, to work in a sustainable way, it is important to understand the basics of sustainability, understand the concept of “sustainable development” and the United Nations sustainability goals. Having this understanding gives confidence and knowledge to do sustainable changes in the clinical environment in a systemic way. One of the most important parts in sustainable dentistry is homecare for our patients, which is the bedrock of all dental treatment, preventative to restorative. We constantly have to go back to basic for our own sake and for our patients, why oral hygiene is so important, how does oral hygiene products work and how do we get our patients to do what we tell them? Constantly reminding ourselves and our patients is the only way to achieve sustainable dentistry – and we can’t do it alone.
Covid-19 has changed the way we live our lives – mask wearing, social distancing, worldwide vaccinations, virtual communications. It has also widened the gap between people of different socio-economic groups. The rich have become richer; the poor have become more marginalised. Children, being dependent on parents/caregivers, are more vulnerable to the pandemic’s immediate and longer term spill-over effects. The world’s newest generation of children growing up in the pandemic has been given the name Gen C, or Generation Covid. Pity the children – in these times of global crisis and rising uncertainty, the onus is on us to understand their suffering, and to adapt in order to better serve our paediatric population. This talk will address the challenges practitioners may face with Gen C in terms of their psyche and hampered social development, access to care, and parental fears regarding contagion and vaccinations.