In our previous articles on cognitive decline and implant care, oral care tips and brain health and periodontitis; we have explored the relationship between poor oral health and dementia. Oral health is often an overlooked aspect when it comes to senior care. According to the Journal of American Dental Association, seniors are vulnerable to dental problems and are underserved in the oral health arena. In a recent series of reviews published in the British Dental Journal, evidence was found for poor oral health to have an associated increased risk of cognitive impairment and vice-versa.
According to the World Health Organization, an estimated 3.5 billion people are affected by oral health issues. Yet, it is often overlooked when it comes to general healthcare. In high-income countries, dental treatment is costly, averaging 5% of total health expenditure and 20% of out-of-pocket health expenditure. In lower-and middle-income countries (LMICs) the oral health care demands are beyond the capacities of the health care systems. The WHO finds oral health to be a key indicator of overall health, wellbeing and quality of life.
With good oral care practice, it is possible to avoid most oral health diseases. As part of SCI’s vision to drive authentic conversations about quality-of-life for the elderly, we have worked with TePe Oral Hygiene Products to focus on issues of oral health. With a strong basis in Swedish dentistry, Professors Bo Krasse and Hilding Björn had a deep interest in the benefits of interdental cleaning. Together they worked with wood-carver Henning Eklund to develop the first triangular dental stick in 1965. With its natural shape designed to fit the interdental space, their cleaning device proved to be more effective than the ones already on the market. From there, the product spread to pharmacies in Malmö and then across Sweden. Today Tepe’s vision “to bring healthy smiles for life, by inspiring good oral health” is central to raising awareness of preventive dental care and the connection between oral and general health. The company continues its mission to make good oral health possible for the masses.
In this final interview for 2019, SCI spoke with TePe’s Manager Odontology and Scientific Affairs, Anna Nilvéus Olofsson – based out of the organization’s Malmö headquarters – to understand the importance of education in changing people’s attitudes towards oral health.
Anna has a strong interest in preventive dental care and actively promotes good oral hygiene as a natural part of an overall healthy lifestyle. She says that it was important for her to join a company where she could stand behind the product portfolio and ethos.
“Education and raising the awareness about the fundamental role of oral health is closely connected to our vision and we aim to continue to share our message all over the world” – Anna Nilvéus Olofsson, Manager Odontology and Scientific Affairs, TePe
She states, “From its founding in 1965, TePe has had a focus on oral health and preventive dental care. We continue to develop our products in close collaboration with dental professionals to secure knowledge and clinical relevance, and to emphasise our ambition to educate and raise awareness of oral health. Recently we created TePe Share, a knowledge platform in life science for both professionals and private individuals. This is an interactive space to be informed, inspired and educated. There are articles, brochures, and tutorials that anyone can access on a wide-range on topics regarding oral health. We have for example excellent information on periodontal diseases, interdental cleaning and implant maintenance. And as our vision is driven by the connection between good oral and general health, TePe has also shared timely information about lung disease, psoriasis, and diabetes – amongst other health challenges – and gum disease.”
“Education is important to raise awareness of the needs of the elderly population. We see a global demographic shift where this part of the population is growing and it is crucial to be aware of their specific needs. We will see an impact on cognitive abilities that may effect daily life. We will also see that this part of the population retains more of their own natural teeth or have implants that needs daily care to avoid disease development. Good oral hygiene is fundamental to maintain oral health which is one of the corner stones for quality of life. The elderly population may be very dependent on assistance from family members and care givers, therefore the collaboration with SCI has been important for us to cascade information and education.”
As our vision is to bring healthy smiles for life by inspiring good oral health, we work hard to raise awareness of preventive dental care and the connection between oral and general health. We promote our message through education for different target groups – dental and hygienist students as well as dentists and specialists. These groups are really important for us in order to mediate the importance of oral hygiene where TePe products are a part of the solution. When it comes to the elderly population, we stress the importance of fine-tuning and tailor-making the message. Here, it is important to consider the autonomy of the patient; support the individual with dignity and respect; and to involve family members or care givers when needed. This is so important because oral health is such a central part of maintaining a good quality of life.”
SCI also spoke with Senior Manager of Clinical Affairs, Ralf Seltman of Tepe’s German subsidiary, who offered interesting perspectives on how they have been working with healthcare and education systems in Austria, Germany and Switzerland to prioritise oral health. What these countries have in common with Sweden is an awareness of oral diseases and the tendency to accept new technology easily.
Ralf Seltman, Senior Manager of Clinical Affairs, TePe
Ralf states, “In Germany, up until the early 1990s, this was rather an ‘exotic’ field with few courses especially in geriatric dentistry. Now, however, it is quite different. There are higher education courses in this field with special departments to understand the needs of older people. In our most recent ventures, we have been collaborating with a local university in Switzerland, supporting the Swiss Epilepsy Foundation, and caregivers with products and education to increase research and knowledge in this area.
At Swedish Care International, our mission is to deliver the best training, good education and tools for elderly and dementia care at an international level by using research and common practices related to the Swedish experience. Collaborating with specialised knowledge providers such as TePe is one of the ways in which we continue to work on our mission.