Ask the doctor
Question: Who needs to be seen as a special care dentistry patient?
Answer: It is the right of all persons to access good dental care. Persons with physical disabilities commonly have problems entering dental operatories or sitting on a dental chair. These persons need special care dentistry.
Persons with learning disabilities can become over-anxious and may need extra reassurance. They too need special care dentistry. Persons
suffering from medical problems may need extra time, extra precautions, special facilities or care. It is the role of the special care dental
provider to cater to these individuals.
When it is impossible to carry out oral care in a dental office or a hospital office, home or domiciliary visits may be necessary. If home visits are not appropriate, a patient may need to consider other alternatives to routine practice. Sedation or general anesthetics are such alternatives.
It is necessary for the dentist to know the patient’s medical history and about all medications being taken. The dentist will ask for the name of the family doctor, hospital consultant and about recent operations and allergies the patient may have. All of these things allow the dentist to better manage the special needs patient. Concerns and anxieties of the patient should also be identified, so staff can put the patient at ease.
It is at this point, if necessary, an interpreter or translator may have to
be utilized. It is not uncommon that guide dogs be allowed to accompany
patients as they obtain their treatment.
Some special care patients may prefer to be seen at certain times of the
day depending on their needs and should be accommodated. For instance,
evening appointments may not be suitable for those patients who tire easily or may spend the morning worrying. Others may rely heavily on routine and may need regular appointments at the same time.
A special needs patient still needs to see their dentist regularly. Some
will be advised to attend at six-month intervals, others more often and others less often. It is important that the special needs patient and the dentist build a good positive relationship. Short, but regular appointments seem to work better at building trust between dentist and patient, but the dentist will determine what is appropriate.
If any of the above mentioned scenarios apply to you, please consult your dentist and doctor for further information.
Dr. Andre Clarke
Specialized Medical Dentist
Do you have a medical question that needs answering?We would love to hear from you. Send us your question and look out fot he next”Ask the Doctor”column. You can send your question via e-mail to [email protected], or to Doctors Hospital, P.O. Box N-3018, Nassau, Bahamas or The Nassau Guardian.
This informative column is intended to educate the community about important issues regarding their health, and is not intended as a substitute for consultation with a primary physician. For more information or for a physician referral, please call 302-4633 or 302-4707.