You wouldn’t think proper dental care would have an effect on creating art, but there was a definite tie between the two for one long-term care resident in Saskatchewan.
Jack Coggins was a quadriplegic and lived in one of Saskatoon’s long-term care homes. He passed away late last year.
Jack Coggins creating beautiful artwork through oral painting.
“Jack was a wonderful man, and extremely friendly,” says Kerrie Krieg, Long-term Care Oral Health Coordinator for the Saskatchewan Health Authority’s Population Public Heath- Oral Health Program. “He always wanted to know about how everyone else was doing. He hardly ever had requests for himself – occasionally, he’d ask for someone to cross his feet just so, or adjust the straw to his water bottle, so he was able to get a drink of water when he needed one.
Jack spent a lot of time in the art room during his years in long-term care. He developed a love for painting by mouth. But due to deteriorating oral health a few teeth were extracted. He began struggling to chew his food properly and to hold a steady paintbrush. This is where the Better Oral Health in Long-Term Care program came to the rescue.
Thanks to the oral health care team that was developed within the home, including a dentist who visited Jack’s home, and a dental hygienist, Jack received the dental care he needed to improve his quality of life, not only allowing him to chew food without difficulty or pain but as well as enjoying a moist healthy mouth. From the help of the saliva substitute he was able to get for his dry mouth condition. Jack was able to sleep through the night without the feeling of a dry mouth.
Once his front tooth was replaced a steadier stroke developed with his painting. “It was incredible to see his painting improve,” notes Krieg.
Jack’s life has reminded Krieg how important an oral health program and an oral health team are in a long-term care to improve a person’s quality of life.
“By ensuring that staff understand why oral health is important, they will take the time to ensure teeth are cleaned properly on a daily basis,” she says. “It is also important to have a dentist who is willing to provide dental treatment in long term care, who is passionate about improving the quality of life for residents.”