Can something as “simple” as thorough weekly tooth brushing make a difference? Absolutely! When a loved one is unable to brush for him/her-self anymore it is essential to reducing the possibility of infection from an oral source.
For more than a year I have been working with a holocaust survivor. Her daughter (Jackie) sought out the services of the HyLife Oral Health Alliance at the time the dentist expressed doubt he (and his dental team) could do anything more for Esther than extract teeth. Knowing the value Esther placed on her teeth, Jackie found that to be an unacceptable answer. About two months into the Hylife program Esther had a preventive appointment with her dental hygienist. I accompanied Esther and Jackie hoping that Esther might recognize my face and be more cooperative for the hygienist. Unfortunately, this did not happen, but I was able to help the hygienist with safe access to Esther’s mouth.
Several months later at Esther’s next hygiene appointment there was a very different report. The afternoon of that appointment, this message was waiting on my phone: “Good news from Dr Hansen’s office. Got lots of compliments on the work that you’ve been doing with Esther and Dr. said he had perhaps given up hope on Esther’s situation. Feeling like nothing could be done. But, he’s changing his mind and so he said do six-month preventive visits for her. Things are looking much better! We had a good visit. Thank you so very much, Linda. Dr. Kirk was so very pleased too that you are working on our team. So, thanks again and thanks for going out and doing the extra mile for us. Thank you, goodbye. ”
As a Hylife Oral Care Specialist, I do consider myself an extension of the family and dental providers. I watch for changes in care levels particularly for out-of-town families, and oral changes that might need intervention by the dentist. My reward is knowing the risk of aspiration pneumonia is reduced and comfort levels increased.