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New On-line Dental Program Aimed at Older Australians

A new on-line learning program to help older Australians maintain and improve their oral health, focusses on keeping natural teeth.

Losing teeth is not an inevitable consequence of ageing according to researchers in the Oral Health CRC at the University of Melbourne.

Older adults have been identified by public health agencies as a group highly vulnerable to poor oral health, including dental decay, gum disease (periodontitis) and oral cancer.  Loss of natural teeth often leads to problems with eating and speaking, and further problems in the mouth.

But researchers say that, armed with some basic oral health knowledge and proven techniques for looking after teeth and mouths, older Australians should expect to maintain healthy, natural teeth into older age.

The new web-based oral health education program is a series of ten interactive tutorials developed and trialled by researchers.

Project leader Associate Professor Rodrigo Mari?o said the people who took part in the trial embraced the new technology and made positive changes to their dental care routines.

“The learning materials were developed by oral health experts after extensive consultation with older adults,” Associate Professor Mari?o said. “They specifically address oral health issues for older people, in a way that people can understand and act on.”

The on-line program was trialled with adults over the age of 55 from the City of Whittlesea who completed the online tutorials in libraries, community centres and from home.

The program covers oral health issues that are of particular concern to older people, including decay of the tooth root, periodontitis (gum disease), dry mouth caused by medications for health conditions such as hypertension, gum recession and how to access public dental services.

The series of on-line tutorials are available for no cost at http://www.e-dentalez.com/sitio/oral-health-promotion/

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