Advice for special need patients

Advice for special need patients: Dr Zuber Bagasi Answers your Dental Dilemmas

Special Need Patients

Q. Can any dentists treat patients with special needs?
A. You will find that most dentists are pleased to provide treatment to those with special needs, as everyone should be able to have proper dental care regardless of their situation.

Some people would need specialist care and facilities in order to have this care provided however, usually your doctor or dentist will be able to suggest you to a clinic best suited to an individual’s needs, if they are unable to provide the adequate amount of care needed. Along with the referral letter, they will also send across any X-rays and hospital letters, in order to give the treating dental team an idea of the patient’s dental history. Some dentists would also be able to perform home visits for those individuals with special needs, who find it difficult to get to a surgery, and some care facilities can provide sedation or general anaesthetic.

It is important for the dentist to be aware of any medication that the patient is taking and their medical history. The dentist may also ask for their doctor’s name and about any allergies or recent operations they have had so make sure to make a note of all this information.

It is also important to ask the dentist to provide sugar-free medication (if needed) as many patients with disabilities rely on medication to help keep their condition under control. The dentist should also be aware of any anxieties the patient has, so they can make extra sure that they are doing everything possible to make them feel at ease.

Most dentists will thankfully treat people with special dental needs in their surgery. Though, certain individuals find it hard to get to the surgery and so other provisions may be made by the practice: for example, home visits and special health centers. Certain people need a specialist service. Some hospitals or health centers will also support people needing specialist care and may be able to offer possible treatment alternatives, such as sedation or general anesthetic.

Typically the patient’s dentist or doctor is answerable for referring them to the clinic best suited to their needs. Usually, the dentist or doctor will script a referral letter and send it, with any hospital letters and x-rays, to give the dental team an idea of the patient’s dental history.

The dental team will want to know the patient’s medical history and concerning any medicines they are taking. This includes any inhalers and regularly prescribed medicines from the doctor. The dental team will also need to know the name of the family doctor and hospital consultant, and about any contemporary operations and allergies the patient may have.

It is also useful if the dental team know about any concerns or anxieties the patient has, so that they can help to make the patient feel at ease. The patient’s parents or carer can give this information. However, some patients do prefer to converse directly with the dentist. Selected patients may have other special needs: for example, the help of an interpreter or translator, or to have a guide dog. Dentists are prepared for working in these circumstances.

Certain patients prefer to be seen at specific times of the day dependent on their necessities. For example, evening appointments may not be appropriate for patients who fatigue easily or may spend the day distressing. Other patients rely heavily on routine and might demand regular appointments at the same time.

Practices should offer facilities for wheelchair users, including access to the practice, and ground-floor surgeries. If wheelchair access is particularly important, contact the surgery and ask if this is something they are equipped for. Some clinics have specially tailored surgeries for patients with mobility problems.

Their doctor or dental team may refer children with learning disabilities or other medical conditions to a specialist dental service. It is important to take children to see the dentist at an early age. A low-sugar diet is also important, as they may be more likely to have tooth decay due to having problems with brushing and through taking medication. Make sure they have fizzy drinks, and sugary foods and drinks, just at mealtimes, and in moderation.

Many patients with disabilities have to rely on medication to keep their condition under control. It is thus important to ask the doctor to prescribe sugar-free medicines, specifically if they are syrups.

It is imperative to tell the dental team about any medication that the patient is taking, in case the care is affected or the teams need to take any further safeguards.

For some people, moving their arms or hands can be a problem, which makes effective cleaning difficult. It is important to reach all the areas of the mouth to clean effectively. A toothbrush with a small to medium head size with soft to medium bristles is usually recommended. There are special handgrips and other adaptations that can be fitted to manual toothbrushes to make them easier to hold.

In some cases, electric or ‘power’ toothbrushes are suggested for individuals with mobility problems. They are also accommodating to people with learning difficulties, as they can be a novelty and therefore encourage brushing. The dentist or dental team will be able to offer advice and practical help on brushing and general mouth care.

Intravenous sedation (an injection) is an actual way of handling most nervous patients. The drugs given can relax and calm the patient, so treatment can be carried out with the dental team 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 deliberated throughout the consultation. Occasionally the patient would need to be raised to a specialist clinic for this treatment.

Relative Analgesia (RA) can also aid patients’ get through their treatment more easily. Here, nitrous oxide and oxygen are breathed in through a nosepiece. It is the safest and simplest form of sedation and is often the one most suitable for both children and people with special needs. Though, this is not appropriate for everyone – especially individuals with limited understanding, cerebral palsy or multiple sclerosis.

In some cases the dental team prefer to use other ways of calming the patient. These can include simply talking, visiting the practice to meet staff, or even hypnosis. These can all be effective in making the patient less anxious.

It is imperative to visit the dental team regularly. This would generally be every six months, however some people need to visit less often and others more often. The dental team will be able to tell you.

The dentist may also endorse arrangements with a dental hygienist, who will remove plaque and tartar from the teeth and submit advice on how to brush successfully and keep your mouth clean and healthy. The dental team may also offer guidance to care givers about the dental care of others. It is very vital to shape a relationship between the dental team, the patient and their caregiver. This can help significantly with citizens who have severe learning difficulties. Short but consistent appointments seem to work better at building trust between the patient and the dental team than long appointments at irregular intervals.

Contact Synergy Dental Clinic Bury Today

Unsure about your dental health? Contact Synergy Dental Clinic in Blackpool on 01253 348616 or email the team at patient-services@synergydental.org.uk today and they’ll take care of everything!

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