Panel Discussion: Effects of COVID-19 on the Oral Health of Elders Living in Long-Term Care (LTC) Facilities

Proudly co-presented by:
BC Dental Association   BC Dental Hygienists' Association

Webinar: Monday Nov. 22, 6:00PM-7:00PM

Please join us as our colleagues discuss COVID-19's impact and potential solutions for optimizing oral care for seniors living in long-term care (LTC) settings. Our panel includes members of the BC Dental Association, BC Dental Hygienists' Association, and the Denturists Association of British Columbia.

This session may be eligible for 1 CE credit, pending CDSBC review.


The panel will discuss:

  • The challenges of oral health in long term care
  • COVID-19's effect on oral health/effect of COVID-19 on the general health of residents
  • What dental professionals can do to support LTC staff when addressing the oral health of the residents in their care
  • What family members can do to help with oral health
  • What government can do to further support oral health in LTC


Dr. Nicholas TongDr. Nicholas Tong

Dr. Nicholas Tong is an Assistant Professor of Teaching at The University of British Columbia Faculty of Dentistry in the Division of Prosthodontics and Dental Geriatrics. He is the Program Director for the hospital-based UBC General Practice Residency. Dr. Tong graduated with BHSc degree from McMaster University in 2010, a DDS degree from the University of Toronto in 2014, a GPR certificate from the University of Alberta Hospital in 2015, and an MSc (Craniofacial Science) degree from UBC in 2019. He has been a staff dentist with the UBC Geriatric Dentistry Program since 2015, treating frail and functionally dependent patients in long-term care. Dr. Tong is a member of BCDA's Geriatric Dentistry Committee and a Fellow with the Special Care Dentistry Association Council of Geriatric Dentistry.

Dr. Chris WyattDr. Chris Wyatt

Dr. Chris Wyatt is Professor and Chair of the Division of Prosthodontics & Dental Geriatrics in the Faculty of Dentistry at the University of British Columbia. Dr. Wyatt graduated with a DMD degree from the University of British Columbia in 1986, a diploma in Prosthodontics in 1995, and an MSc in Dentistry in 1996 from the University of Toronto. He is the director of the UBC Geriatric Dentistry Program that has been providing access to dental services for frail older adults residing in long-term hospital settings since 2002. Dr. Wyatt is a member of the BCDA Geriatric Dentistry Committee.

Leta Zaleski, British Columbia Dental Hygienists' AssociationLeta Zaleski

Leta Zaleski is a 1994 Diploma in Dental Hygiene graduate from the University of Alberta, obtained a BC Provincial Instructor Diploma in 2010, and a Master of Education in Post-Secondary Education Leadership from Simon Fraser University in 2013. A passionate life-long learner, Ms. Zaleski is dedicated to issues on access to care, and the role of dental hygienists in interdisciplinary practice. She is currently an educator in the dental hygiene program at Camosun College in Victoria, BC.

Leah ThomsonLeah Thomson, British Columbia Dental Hygienists' Association

Leah Thomson graduated from the VCC Dental Hygiene Program in 1993, working in private practice dentistry before opening her Dental Hygiene Practice. In 2010, she completed Dental Education in the Care of People with Disabilities at U of W. Ms. Thomson employs a second Dental Hygiene Practitioner in her busy mobile practice, serving residents in Long Term Care. She has volunteered in the DTES at the East Side Dental Clinic and Health Outreach Fair. Ms. Thomson is a content reviewer of learning modules for CDHBC and guest lectures at VCC on LTC practice.

Danielle Ramos, RDDanielle Ramos, RD, Executive Director, Denturists Association of British Columbia

Danielle Ramos graduated from the Denturist Program at the Vancouver Community College in 2011 and obtained her license in 2012. Danielle decided to specialize in mobile services after recognizing the need for dentures for those who cannot travel to a clinic to meet their denture needs. Danielle has provided denture services to patients in hospitals, homes and care facilities across Vancouver. She runs a physical location: Lower Mainland Denture Centre as well as her Mobile Denture Clinic. Danielle is a Board Member at the Denturist Association of BC and a pre-clinical instructor at CDI College in Surrey BC since 2016.


Dr. Salima DadaniDr. Salima Dadani, Director, Member Support, BCDA

A native of Vancouver, Dr. Salima Dadani attended the University of British Columbia where she received her BSc in Human Nutrition and Dietetics. She then attended the Tufts University School of Dental Medicine in Boston where she received her DMD degree (Doctor of Medical Dentistry). In addition to her role as Director, Member Support for BCDA, Dr. Dadani is the owner of a successful mobile dental practice that provides preventative and restorative oral healthcare services. Dr. Dadani is very interested in geriatric dentistry and an advocate for quality oral healthcare for seniors.


Oral health problems and diseases are more prevalent in seniors living in LTC facilities; seniors in LTC face unique factors that make them susceptible to cavities and other mouth diseases such as medications taken that cause dry mouth, the mental and physical difficulty to maintain daily mouth care habits, and diets that are rich in sugar and carbohydrates.

Not only are LTC residents at greater risks for oral health problems, but many residents do not have access to regular dental visits nor do they receive daily assistance to brush their teeth or take care of their dentures. According to the 2012-2013 Canadian Institute for Health Information comparison of home care clients and seniors living in residential care, only 5.2% of people living in residential care are independent – the majority of people in LTC require some sort of assistance with everyday living.

COVID-19 has exacerbated the issues noted above. The strict infection control protocols in place in LTC facilities, combined with staffing challenges posed by single-site working restrictions and restrictions on family visitors have made regular daily mouth care extremely difficult if not impossible to perform.

A senior with poor oral health is living with risks to their overall health. Oral health diseases or oral health pain can affect one’s ability to speak properly which can lead to social isolation. It can also affect their ability to eat properly, which can cause a decline in nutritional status, body weight and overall resistance to systemic diseases. What can dental professionals, whether that be dentists and hygienists in private practice, or in the community or in long-term care, do? Join us for this webinar to find out.