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The Canadian Oral Health Screening Tool for Seniors

The Office of the Chief Dental Officer of Canada (OCDOC) initiated this project, and commissioned Dr. Christian Caron’s team at Université Laval in early 2021 to comprehensively explore and report on the global body of evidence on screening for oral abnormalities and the condition of dental prostheses in seniors. From that evidence base, they were then to develop a plain-language, user-friendly, evidence-based, rapid screening tool for Canadian non-dental primary health care providers to assess oral tissue abnormalities and the dysfunction of dental prostheses in seniors in Canada. This project was undertaken with the understanding that there are a number of settings, particularly institutional settings, where non-dental health care providers caring for our seniors may be hesitant to screen for the oral health issues of their clients in the absence of in-house oral health care providers.

In June 2021, the OCDOC convened a landmark, knowledge-based, inter-professional stakeholders meeting of experts and potential professional users to discuss the findings of the Université Laval team’s initial report on their systematic review of the literature, their global review of existing tools, and an initial draft version of a Canadian oral health screening tool for seniors.  Core Participants comprised representatives of the Canadian Geriatrics Society, the Canadian Gerontological Nursing Association, and the Canadian Association of Public Health Dentistry. Representatives from the Canadian Dental Association, the Canadian Dental Hygienists Association, the Canadian Dental Assistants Association, the Canadian Dental Therapists Association, the Denturist Association of Canada, the Canadian Alliance of Dental Technology Regulators, the Canadian Dental Assisting Regulatory Authorities, the Federation of Dental Hygiene Regulators of Canada, the Canadian Dental Regulatory Authorities Federation, the Association of Canadian Faculties of Dentistry, Health Canada, and the Public Health Agency of Canada participated as Observers.

During this meeting, Dr. Caron’s team responded to questions and captured the agreed outcomes of any debates regarding the content. They then went back and amended the draft accordingly to create a proposed final product. The proposed final version of the Canadian Oral Health Screening Tool for Seniors was then recirculated to the Core Participants for consideration and endorsement. Following constructive feedback and final editing, this tool was then endorsed by the Canadian Geriatrics Society, the Canadian Gerontological Nursing Association, the Canadian Association of Public Health Dentistry, and the Public Health Agency of Canada. It was then made available in the public domain, to be maintained as an evergreen resource by Dr. Caron’s team at Université Laval. It was also shared with the Standards Council of Canada, the Health Standards Organization, and the Canadian Standards Association for their consideration as they work collaboratively to develop new national standards for care and services provided by Canada’s long-term care homes.