Dental Care for Disabled Adults
Disabled adults face a lot of challenges in everyday life. Activities that most people take for granted can be much more challenging, especially when accommodations are not in place. One area that often involves a struggle is the dentist. That doesn’t have to be the case, though – many dental clinics make it their mission to ensure everyone with mental and physical disabilities is welcome in the dental chair.
What Problems Do Disabled Adults Face at the Dentist?
Unfortunately, disabled adults face a wide range of issues at the dentist. There are both physical and mental obstacles in the way preventing many people with disabilities from accessing oral health care.
Getting to the Surgery
The first struggle that many people with disabilities face is being unable to physically get to the dental surgery to begin with. That might be because they don’t have access to transportation and cannot travel alone.
Getting in the Dental Chair
It’s common for people with mobility issues to struggle with getting physically into the dentist’s chair. For example, people with cerebral palsy may not have the ability to move onto the chair without a lot of assistance. This is a big problem if the dentist doesn’t have accommodations in place, as it could lead to a more extended and stressful dental visit or the person being unable to see the dentist at all.
Many people with developmental disabilities and mental disorders struggle with dental anxiety. When someone has high levels of stress associated with the dentist, they are less likely to get into the dental chair, and even if they do, they may struggle throughout the entire treatment.
Being Unable to Communicate
Some adults with disabilities are non-verbal. There might be issues in this case because the disabled adult cannot communicate their problems to the dentist. For example, they may be experiencing tooth pain but are unable to tell their dentist.
Poorer Oral Health
Many people with disabilities have poorer oral health than the general population as they struggle to keep up with good dental hygiene habits. This means they may need even more invasive treatments when they eventually find a dentist to accommodate their needs.
Lack of Affordability
Many dental treatments are expensive, and not everyone can afford them, including disabled adults. There is some good news – there are certain programs that provide affordable dental care for people who need it most (more on that further down).
How Dentists Can Provide Accommodating Dental Care for Disabled Adults
There are many ways dentists and dental professionals can make a trip to the dentist much smoother for adults with disabilities. If you’re a disabled adult, finding a dentist that provides the following accommodations is a good idea.
One way dental offices can make it easy for a person with disabilities – specifically, those in wheelchairs – is by ensuring wheelchair access all throughout the dental surgery. That might mean installing lifts and ramps, as well as ensuring that the hallways are wide enough for a wheelchair to pass through without issues.
A Wheelchair-friendly Dental Chair
There are dental chairs made specifically for people in wheelchairs. This is a helpful accommodation to have in place, as many wheelchair users struggle with getting into the dentist’s chair. One example is the Diaco dental chair, which allows patients to stay sitting in their wheelchairs throughout the entire dental appointment.
Pre-appointment discussions make the actual dental appointment much easier for disabled adults and their caregivers. It gives the dentist a chance to understand the person’s specific needs so that the dental teams can accommodate them on the day. It can also provide the disabled adult with assurance that they will be well looked after.
In some instances, being able to provide home dental appointments is ideal. For disabled adults who really struggle to get out of their homes, these dental visits may help ensure their oral health is in good shape. Of course, not all dentists can perform treatments in a patient’s home, as a lot of treatments require big machinery (such as an X-ray).
Programs that Help with Dental Funding for Disabled Adults
It’s an unfortunate truth that a lot of people with disabilities cannot access dental care in the usual way, often due to not having the available funds. Dental care can be expensive, after all. If someone cannot work because of a disability, this may make it much harder for them to receive that all-important treatment.
There is some good news – there are several amazing organizations making dental care access much easier for people who cannot afford the treatments. One example is the Aspen Dental Healthy Mouth Movement, which aims to eliminate barriers to dental treatments for Americans. There is also the Donated Dental Services DDS program, which is a free dental service for those who have permanent disabilities or are over the age of 65.
Another incredible program is the Dental Lifeline Network. This organization has been around since 1975 and has helped many disabled and vulnerable adults receive optimal dental care. Programs like these make good oral hygiene for everyone a possibility. If you are an elderly or disabled adult and need help affording dental care, consider applying for one of these programs.
Everyone Deserves Access to High-quality Dental Care
Dental care is important, and every single person deserves access to it, no matter their situation. It’s not just about having an attractive smile – oral hygiene prevents pain and infections. Without looking after your teeth and gums, you could end up with gum disease, tooth decay, tooth pain, and even tooth loss.Are you looking for affordable healthcare? At BAFDentistry, we offer accessible dental care for patients with disabilities, offering a range of accommodations to make the visit as easy and stress-free as possible. Our dental offices are disability-friendly, and all our staff are highly trained and will work with you to ensure all your particular requirements are met.