In a 2017 study from The National Council on Disability, adults with disabilities are at a higher risk of poor oral health. From a shortage of trained professionals to dental offices that aren’t wheelchair accessible, getting consistent dental care can be difficult for people with developmental and physical disabilities.
Not having proper dental care can also affect other conditions the patient may have, as well as impact their daily lives. With poor oral health, patients can run into challenges such as difficulty eating, not being able to interact socially or the inability to get a job.
Fortunately, a major breakthrough in the dental education field will improve in providing accommodations and fair treatment for disabled patients.
By mid-2020, The Commission on Dental Accreditation has approved new standards that will require all U.S. dental schools to train students in the assessment and management of patients with special needs and in wheelchairs.
While small, this is a wonderful step towards providing patients of all types to achieve optimal oral health. According to the team of special needs dentists at Dental on Central in Phoenix, AZ, it’s important for dentists to understand that each patient has their own set of mental or physical requirements and to treat the patients with the respect they deserve.
In addition to this new standard, dental offices have also been finding different ways to accommodate patients, including:
- Wheelchair-accessible offices
- The option to remain in their wheelchair or move to a dentist chair
- Training for a caregiver to help with brushing
- Help or adaptations to hold a toothbrush
- Emotional support or extra time to get comfortable in the dentist chair
These new changes to dental programs and to dental offices are positive moves towards equal treatment for disabled individuals and hopefully motivation for advancement in other health fields as well.
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