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Treating patients with disabilities

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  Posted by: The Probe      22nd March 2020

It’s essential that dental practices look into ways to provide care for people with disabilities. From improving access to investing in technology which makes treating these patients easier and increases their comfort, there are multiple ways to ensure that your practice is offering equal opportunities for care.

This is especially relevant as disabilities are probably more common than you would expect. Disabilities can be both physical and mental, and professionals need to keep this at the forefront of care, especially if they want to ensure that their practices are a welcoming, inclusive space for all. There are over 14 million disabled people in the UK (22% of the population) which means that it’s highly likely that your patient list will include multiple people who may need extra consideration.

Of course, under the Equality Act of 2010, you will have already had to think about accessibility in your practice and catering for people with these individual needs. However, that doesn’t mean that further improvements can’t be made!

Access for everybody

Do you have a ramp for wheelchair users to enter the building? Is your waiting room set out in a way that those who require aid to walk or whom have to use a wheelchair or motorised scooter have room to manoeuvre themselves and be comfortable? Have you made sure that fire exits are easily usable for these individuals?

Often, it’s only small things like this that can determine whether your practice is suitable for these individuals and whether they can easily access treatment. If you don’t accommodate people with physical disabilities, then it’s likely that these patients will look elsewhere, losing you potential business.

A welcome that counts

 Communication plays a vital role in all aspects of our lives. For those with learning disabilities, it’s absolutely vital that they are met and treated by professionals with an understanding attitude who take the time to communicate properly so that no misunderstandings arise.

Those with severe learning disabilities or mental disabilities will usually have a carer or someone with them to help, but that doesn’t mean that professionals shouldn’t take the time to ensure communication is as good as possible.

People who have learning disabilities may have difficulties with understanding information, so it’s a good idea to see whether you can incorporate some different methods of communication, especially when explaining potential treatments. Visual aids and videos are a wonderful way to help foster better understanding, and there are countless pieces of software that offer this as an option on the market today.

As a general rule, it also helps to speak slowly and clearly, asking individuals with learning disabilities if they understand what you are saying along the way or getting them to repeat information back to you so that you can ensure comprehension and consent. It does mean you will need to spend extra time with these patients, so it is perhaps worth allocating longer appointment times to them. This way, you can help guarantee that you’ve given these individuals the attention they need.

Technology that assists

Advancements are constantly being made in dental technology, so it makes sense to embrace systems that can help you with providing treatment for people with physical and mental disabilities. This way, you can streamline the care you give them and provide a comfortable, easy experience for them, ensuring that they don’t feel like their disability is impacting the standard of care they receive.

One innovative piece of technology that helps professionals to provide exceptional care for people with disabilities is the CS 9600 system from Carestream Dental. Combining world-class imaging acquisition with adjustability so that it can be manoeuvred to treat those in wheelchairs or who cannot stand for prolonged periods, the system champions equal treatment for all even further through features such as the Live Positioning Assistant. This feature enables users to guide the patient to proper positioning, and as scans take only 7 seconds, you can easily accommodate those with learning disabilities. It helps that parameters are saved during the first scan to ensure that any retakes just require the click of a button.

An equal practice for all

Your dental practice needs to be an inclusive space that can provide care for all. By evaluating aspects such as accessibility and the resources you have available, you can help guarantee that patients feel welcome regardless of any disabilities.


For more information, contact Carestream Dental on 0800 169 9692 or


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