The British Dental Association (BDA) has called on ministers, health commissioners and care home owners to act on conclusions from a new Healthwatch report, showing elderly residents do not always have access to basic care.
Healthwatch inspectors visited 197 care homes across England between January 2016 and April this year. The report found many examples of good care but concluded that in many homes staff were "rushed off their feet" with residents picking up the strain. Of the homes inspected several said it was difficult to get access to a dentist, and only one home told Healthwatch visitors that a dentist came to the home regularly.
The BDA's own research has shown care home owners and managers report that current commissioning of domiciliary care for care homes is patchy and there can be confusion among patients and their relatives about where responsibility for it rests.
Michael Cranfield, Chair of the BDA's England Community Dental Services Committee said:
"This report is a wake-up call for health ministers, commissioners and industry bosses.
"Dentistry is too often the missing piece in care homes, and no one seems to be taking any responsibility for it. We keep seeing vulnerable residents with dentures that have never been taken out, and managers who admit oral health is at the bottom of their to-do lists.
"This isn't rocket science. Staff need training, and residents need access to regular check-ups."