Senior Smiles – Oral Health Program

Economic evaluation of the aged care oral health program -Senior Smiles

An economic evaluation of an oral health hygienist program in aged care facilities showed a significant cost-benefit $3 – $5 for every dollar spent.

The Senior Smiles model of care provided residents with preventive oral hygiene care, referral pathways for complex dental treatment needs and established a formal management programme for ongoing oral health care within the RACFs. A qualified dental hygienist undertook a 24-week oral hygiene intervention in five residential aged care facilities In Central Coast, NSW, to test the model of care. An evaluation concluded that the Senior Smiles model of care was both successful and transportable. [1]

Further, a cost-benefit analysis of Senior Smiles and another UK oral health Improvement program showed both would create overall savings to their health systems.

  • Over a three-year period the Senior Smiles project would generate a cost saving for the healthcare system of $3.14 for every $1 spent.
  • Over a five-year period, the Mouth Care Matters project (UK) would generate £2.66 in cost savings, within the healthcare system, for every £1 spent.

These evaluations were instrumental to enable a national rollout for Mouth Care Matters in the UK, and a public endorsement of Senior Smiles.[2]

[1] Wallace JP, Mohammadi J, Wallace LG, Taylor JA. Senior Smiles: preliminary results for a new model of oral health care utilizing the dental hygienist in residential aged care facilities. Int. 2016;14(4):284-288. 

[2] Jessica Mann et al, Cost-Benefit Analysis of Two Oral Health Improvement Programmes, Community Dent Health, 2021 Feb 25;38(1):26-32

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