( ENSPIRE Health & Wellness ) Dental Hygienist and Educator Advocating for Senior Citizen Oral Health Care Through Community Engagement Developing Equitably Sound Practices
ENSPIRE Contributor: Aishwarya Suresh
In a world racing to become more advanced in every field, we can sometimes forget about the daily application of advancement in our personal lives. What does that mean exactly? The more we know the more we can strive to improve our lives. Take your health for example. Every year thousands of studies are published worldwide on how a person can improve or protect their mental and physical health. Typing away on a laptop, swiping on a tablet, or voice commands on a phone allows for that information to be just one tap away. Yet, what does any of that mean if access on how to apply healthy routines in our lives is unreachable?
Sonya Dunbar, The Geriatric Tooth Fairy as she is lovingly called, dedicates her passion extensively built experience in the oral health care sector to reduce morbidity and high-risk diseases within the senior citizen community; specifically those in long term care facilities. Whereat times daunting lists of the good and bad may overcomplicate how to regularly work better decisions into the lives of the elderly, Dunbar brings well worded and understandable arguments on the importance of oral hygiene. As a Dental Hygienist with over 27 years of public speaking, Oral Care Educator, and now Crest & Oral B Diversity Ambassador, she offers attainable action plans that preemptively work to protect oral health. Therefore safeguarding overall health.
Graduating from TEDx Master Class with the thesis “How to Save Our Seniors With Just a Simple Toothbrush,” educating the public as a TEDx speaker and TEDx Judge, and formerly hosting “Geriatric Tooth Fairy Moment” on Victory Radio, Dunbar has used her platform as an international speaker and presenter to further a crucial and unfortunately overlooked health concern of the elderly demographic.
Titling it the “A, B, C’s of Poor Oral Care,” Dunbar directs listeners’ attention, at national conferences, nursing homes, assisted living facilities and community centers, to the debilitating risks of poor oral hygiene. Due to the concern of COVID-19 spread, many seniors living at nursing homes are not getting the oral care they need, compromising their health, and increasing inconsistencies in health care. In order to patch the gaps, Dunbar passes messages on when to switch out toothbrushes during the cold season to avoid continuous cycles of infections and prioritizing thorough washing of dental appliance storing containers.
When it comes to structurally developing assistance in dental care Dunbar has found ways to engage even beyond the stage. As a Doctoral student in Gerontology at Liberty University she has built on her academic and research contributions as a Healthcare Administration Postgraduate, authoring the Golden Nuggets For Life, which can be found on Audible, iTunes, Kindle, and Amazon. She is both the Co-Founder of the National Mobile Dentistry Conference and American Mobile Dentistry Alliance, and alongside Gerald Dunbar, services residents living in nursing homes as the owners of Mobile Dental Xpress, LLC and Mobile Dental Xpress Wellness and Nutrition, Inc.
Dunbar continues to uphold the importance of remembering every person has the right to improved health and safety awareness. Passing over aging populations is both a prejudice and reflects the severe lack of understanding of the struggles they face. Advocating for better oral health amongst senior citizens, and building better practices to attain inclusive methods amongst those who aid them, promises a future of truly equitable health care.
A long road still ahead Dunbar works to produce various projects within her initiative, such as the “Saving Our Seniors Oral Packets” which are sent out to long term care facilities. This and more can be found here at or on the free downloadable Android and iPhone app, GTFariy. Also keep a lookout for her currently under review for release, “On-line Training Course for CNA’s by Sonya Dunbar – Geriatric Tooth Fairy.”