The world, in general, has become more accessibility friendly over the last few years – but what do dentists do to improve dentistry accessibility? Discover here.
According to the World Bank Group, 15% of the global population has a disability that creates accessibility issues. Accessibility issues range from not having the ability to take the stairs to being completely wheelchair-bound. Still, worldwide changes mean it’s easier than ever for people with a disability to access places they once may have struggled to do so – including the dentist.
Below, we’ll look at what dentists do to improve accessibility for patients within their practices. Accessibility Friendly Practices
From football stadiums to grocery stores – the world has made incredible strides towards making venues more accessible. Dental practices are no different. Dentists actually have a duty of care to make reasonable adjustments, so people with a disability are free to access the same level of care as the rest of the public.
Reasonable adjustments may include a wheelchair ramp, a designated quiet zone for people with mental disabilities, or simple additions to care that make the dentist practice more accessible to people who might struggle mentally at a dental appointment. That’s exactly what the Meylan Family Dental from Saginaw website (opens in new window/tab) advocates doing – the practitioners go the extra mile to ensure patients are comfortable and in as minimal pain as possible.
Patient empowerment is essential, but more so for people with a disability. Patient empowerment supports better oral health and a better experience within the practice – encouraging people to make the right decisions for their oral health is crucial.
Both physical and mental disabilities need a helping hand from empowerment – a mental disability fits in that category if it’s considered to have long-term effects on day-to-day activities. Autism, for example, is a complex developmental disability that can affect an individual’s ability to access the best oral healthcare. That’s primarily due to sensory needs that cause overstimulation in a dental practice environment.
Practices can empower people with autism by meeting their sensory needs and educating them on the importance of good oral hygiene and care. The same goes for someone with a physical disability that might limit their ability to maintain their oral health properly.
A Relaxing Environment
A relaxing dental practice environment is essential for someone with a mental or physical disability who may be apprehensive about visiting the dentist. Simple communication techniques may be all that’s needed to put a patient at ease – especially someone with dentophobia.
Other relaxation techniques may include a pre-consultation to discuss any anxieties about visiting the practice, playing relaxing music, or making the dental practice accessible for working support dogs. Some practices even have community dentists to mitigate the need for visiting the dental practice. Typically, anxieties for people with a disability will center around getting in and out of the dental practice as stress-free as possible.
Dentists have a duty of care to ensure all patients can visit a dental practice safely, comfortably, and to receive the same level of care. A dental practice shouldn’t be a barrier to excellent dental care for people with or without accessibility issues.