Introduction: There are not sufficient dental services for elderly people around the world. Yad Sarah is an Israel-wide network of volunteers aiding sick, elderly, isolated and housebound people with an array of services aimed at making home care possible. It provides medical and social services to more than 380 000 elderly persons per year and in addition, lends medical equipment free of charge, has day rehabilitation centres, legal aid council for seniors, provides transportation for the disabled, meal deliveries and geriatric dental services.
Materials and methods: The latter are equipped with five dental units (one mobile unit) and a dental laboratory. During the 5 years from 2000 to 2004 the dental services provided dental care for 3890 elderly patients with the main clinic located in Jerusalem. Patients pay an average of 70% of the cost price of their dental care, with the difference being subsidised by Yad Sarah. Of the 515 patients who applied for treatment in 2004, 54% possessed natural teeth in both jaws, 28% were fully edentulous, 12% were edentulous in the maxilla and 6% were edentulous in the mandible. Females applied for dental treatment more often than the male population. Older patients (75–101 years old) required oral care at their homes or at old age residences, more frequently than the younger age groups (60–74 years old).
Conclusion: Dental treatment was administered by 70 volunteer dental surgeons, two certified dental hygienists and dental hygienist students. The clinical staff was provided with a comprehensive in-service training in geriatric dentistry during the 3-year service learning period. A survey in 2004 showed that 83% of the selected patients were satisfied, compared with 14% who were not. The reasons for satisfaction were, mainly, the personal relationship with the attending staff (41%) and the professional ability of the dental team (46%).