This part of the program takes place in the physical environment where the elderly receive health care from oral care professionals and other care providers. This can be at home, but also, for example, in a care institution. Oral health and general health are monitored here simultaneously. Using supportive diagnostics, data is collected and interpreted. These will become available to healthcare providers who can choose adequate care strategies and interventions. This part is called the ‘field lab’. The field lab also provides information to the two other lines of research and uses their input in practice.
The saliva quantity and quality of the oral ecosystem form the basis of this research line. After all, saliva is the innate defender of the oral cavity. Salivary flow in combination with the salivary composition, is representative for the oral health status and also reflects many, if not all, blood plasma parameters used to screen, monitor and diagnose many systemic conditions. This knowledge is still in its infancy but has great potential because saliva sampling has a minimal burden on the patient. This project focuses in particular on dry mouth problems. The Dry Mouth Syndrome (DMS) is typically a problem in older people, where poly-pharmacy or Sjogren’s syndrome are causative factors, and which eventually is a strong risk factor for caries and periodontitis.
Shared data is a prerequisite for effective collaboration in primary care. This is not yet the case. In this program component, oral health data from various sources will be collected to monitor the state of oral health in the Netherlands, with a focus on the older patient. In addition, through dental practices and general practitioners (family doctors), we will use data from electronic patient records to establish the relationship between oral health and general health. This approach through practices is new and requires new technological solutions. Practices throughout the country are willing to contribute to this effort.