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University of Iowa College of Dentistry and Dental Clinics research finds new app supports improved care for persons living with dementia

The study, sponsored by the Delta Dental Institute, finds caregivers of people living with dementia saw a significant increase in attitudes towards providing oral hygiene care through the use of a new mobile app.

IOWA CITY, IA and WASHINGTON, DC (February 1, 2024) – Caregivers of people living with dementia reported a significant increase in their knowledge, skills, and a more positive attitude in delivering oral hygiene care, leading to higher confidence in providing care, through the use of a mobile application (app), according to new research from the University of Iowa College of Dentistry and Dental Clinics and the University of Iowa College of Public Health. The study, led by Leonardo Marchini, DDS, MSD, PhD, and Sato Ashida, PhD, assessed the use of an app, Dental.Aging.Tips, as a tool to inform and teach caregivers how to help older adults with their oral health.

“While previous studies have shown that oral hygiene routines for older adults who depend on caregivers are poor due to barriers such as lack of on demand support and training, our study demonstrates that care can be improved through the use of a new mobile app,” said Dr. Marchini. “It is tremendously encouraging that the newly developed Dental.Aging.Tips app used in this study was widely accepted, and improved caregivers’ attitudes, knowledge, and abilities to provide oral hygiene care.”

This research is published in Special Care in Dentistry. Key takeaways from the study include:

·         The Dental.Aging.Tips App improved perceptions related to oral hygiene care provision among both family and paid caregivers.

·         Caregivers found the information extremely useful and helpful in improving the oral hygiene care they provide to persons living with dementia.

·         It is especially helpful for paid caregivers in refreshing their knowledge and skills in providing oral hygiene care.

·         This app can be a useful tool in staff training or orientations at long-term care facilities.

“Maintaining good oral health habits as we age is critical to supporting overall health, and it is promising that Dr. Marchini’s research findings provide caregivers with a new tool to support the oral health of people living with dementia,” said Joseph Dill, DDS, MBA, Chief Dental Officer, Delta Dental Plans Association and Head of Dental Science, Delta Dental Institute. “As the nation’s oral health leader, the Delta Dental Institute is proud to invest in research with actionable solutions – we encourage caregivers for older adults to download this free app and leverage these resources.”

The report was sponsored by the Delta Dental Institute, which supports research-based exploration of care delivery models like emerging technology and mobile apps that improve health care outcomes and advance patient-centered care.

About the Delta Dental Institute

The Delta Dental Institute is dedicated to advancing oral health for all Americans in partnership with the Delta Dental companies and dedicated partners across the country. With expertise rooted in Delta Dental’s rich history of oral health leadership, we engage in and support oral health research, community outreach, and advocacy, striving to ensure that everyone understands the importance of oral health to overall health and has access to the care they need. Visit deltadentalinstitute.com for more information.

About the University of Iowa College of Dentistry and Dental Clinics

The University of Iowa College of Dentistry and Dental Clinics is one of the nation’s leading dental schools and the only one in the state of Iowa. Since 1882, the college has been a leader in patient care, dental education, oral science research, and has become a source of great strength and pride as 78% of Iowa dentists are graduates of the college. The college is an essential part of the university’s health sciences campus, and its dental clinics see more than 170,000 patients each year, which allows students to rank third among all accredited dental schools in the U.S. in the number of hours they spend in clinics.  

About the University of Iowa College of Public Health

The University of Iowa College of Public Health serves as a comprehensive public health resource for the state of Iowa, the Midwest region, and the nation. Ranked among the top 10 publicly supported schools of public health in the U.S., the college is a leader in its multidisciplinary, collaborative approach to addressing public health challenges and training the next generation of public health leaders, educators, and researchers.