Treating patients with special needs can present unique challenges to dental care professionals and staff members. However, with the right training, planning and support, critical dental care can be delivered safely and compassionately.
The physical and mental challenges faced by special needs patients often extend to personal oral health. Depending on the severity of the patients’ condition, these unique circumstances, if not properly managed, can be detrimental to his or her overall health and comfort.
The Pacific Dental Services Foundation™ offered a free training event to all dentists and staff members in the Denver, CO region. The event took place on Monday, April 25, 2016, from 7:00 a.m. – 11:00 a.m. at Mountain West Dental Institute, 925 Lincoln Street, Unit B, Denver, CO 80203. Attendees received four continuing education credits for participating in the four-hour training module. Presenters included a panel of experts:
- Dr. Terry Katz, PhD, Psychologist in Developmental Pediatrics at Children’s Hospital
- Dr. Elizabeth Shick, Professor at the University of Colorado
- Dr. Jacob Dent, Multi-Office Owner, PDS Institute Faculty
“Treating patients with special needs has taken me to the limits of my clinical skills,” notes Dr. Jacob Dent, a practicing dentist in the Houston area, and one of the presenters. “However, when I realized how impactful and life changing my efforts were for the patients and their families, the reward outshines any struggles I may have faced.”
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 17 percent of children under 18 have a developmental disability ranging from cerebral palsy and spinal/musculoskeletal conditions to hearing and vision impairments that can impact oral health. Beginning proper and regular dental care in childhood can significantly reduce the severity of dental disease that often plagues special needs adults.
A Curriculum Assessment of Needs Project study conducted in the state of Kansas found that just 2.7 percent of caretakers of individuals with intellectual disabilities felt it was easy to find a dentist in their community to provide care. One of the event’s objectives was to help dentists and staff feel more comfortable with special needs care so patients have more options.
Accommodating and effectively treating these individuals includes everything from creating a barrier-free dental office environment to ensuring a safe experience while in the dental chair. Attendees also learned how to more effectively communicate with patients and caregivers about procedures and preventive oral health practices.
About Pacific Dental Services Foundation
The Pacific Dental Services Foundation serves communities by facilitating improvements to oral healthcare, including bringing dental care to challenged urban and rural communities in need via the Pacific Dental Services Mobile Dental Clinic, which is staffed by local PDS-supported dentists who volunteer their time.
About Mountain West Dental Institute
The Mountain West Dental Institute is a state-of-the-art training facility with spacious auditoriums, learning labs and operatory clinics located in the Beauvallon Building in Denver.