Everyone needs to be able to have dental care. However, some people need special facilities or services to have this care provided. People with physical disabilities may have problems getting into the surgery or even into the dental chair. People with learning disabilities may become overanxious at the thought of going to the dentist or may need extra reassurance. People suffering from severe medical problems may need extra precautions or care. Dentists are able to take account of all these things when providing dental care.
Usually the patient's dentist or doctor is responsible for referring them to the clinic best suited to the patient's needs. Some Community Dental Services allow patients to refer themselves. Normally, the dentist or doctor will write a referral letter and send it, with any hospital letters and x-rays, to give the Community Dental Officer an idea of the patient's dental history.
Children with learning disabilities or other medical conditions may be referred to the Community Dental Service by their doctor, dentist or health visitor. It is important to register children with a dentist at an early age. A low-sugar diet is also important, as they may be more likely to have dental decay due to difficulty in cleaning and through taking medication. Make sure fizzy drinks, and sugary foods and drinks are kept to mealtimes only and are taken in moderation.
For some people, manual movement can be a problem, which makes effective cleaning difficult. It is important to reach all the areas of the mouth to clean effectively. A small-to medium-headed toothbrush with soft to medium bristles is usually recommended. There are special handgrips and other adaptations which can be fitted to manual toothbrushes to make them easier to hold. In some cases, electric toothbrushes are recommended for people with mobility problems. They are also helpful to those with learning difficulties as they can be a novelty and therefore encourage toothbrushing. The dentist or dental team will be able to offer advice and practical help on toothbrushing and general mouth care.
Intravenous sedation (injection) is an effective way of treating most nervous patients. The drugs given can relax and calm the patient, so treatment can be carried out with dentist and patient still able to talk to each other. There are certain things that affect a patient's suitability for this type of sedation. These include weight, age and medical condition. This would all be discussed during the consultation and the necessary information given. Usually the patient would need to be referred to a specialist clinic for this treatment.
Treatment may be available under the National Health Service or privately, depending on the practice. NHS treatment is free for people getting benefit. If the patient is on a particularly low income, but does not claim any benefits, then they may get help with charges by filling in an HC1 form. You can get these from either the dental practice or doctor's surgery and you may be able to get help towards dental costs and eye tests among other things. It is also important to ask for a treatment plan and estimate of charges at the time of the check up to avoid confusion with payment.The Community Dental Service will provide most treatment free of charge. However, charges will be made for any private treatment carried out. In some cases treatment needing laboratory work, such as dentures, bridges, and crowns, will also be charged for.