Many people take their regular dental visits for granted. It’s easy for you to get in your car or take public transportation to Dr. Dhiraj Sharma’s office. From there, you comfortably relax in the waiting room and easily sit on the exam chair. But what is the experience like for people with disabilities?
The International Association of Disability and Oral Health (iDAH) and Oral-B recently talked to Dentistry (UK) about the importance of accessible dentistry and how it can be improved.
iDAH and Oral-B Have Been Expanding Oral Health
Both iDAH and Oral-B have been working hard over the years to expand access to dentistry. Oral-B has had the same mission for 70 years, which is the goal for kids and adults to have healthier teeth and gums with the help of the dentist or at home. iDAH includes about 8,000 dentists, as well as other allied health professionals. These include anesthesiologists, hygienists, language therapists, and more. They come together to reduce oral health inequalities.
Oral-B and iDAH came together to help with accessible dentistry in Europe. About 66 million people on the continent have disabilities. A third of them have gum issues and related problems because they struggle with oral health. The organizations also recognize that getting oral health care is much harder for people with disabilities.
On top of that, if ever they do get dental treatments, they tend to have worse outcomes, such as more extractions. Also, people with disabilities face additional challenges. The organizations mention dentures as an example. Depending on a person’s disabilities, putting in, wearing, and taking out dentures may be much harder for them.
Why It Matters
The representatives from iDAH and Oral-B point out that dentists need better education on how to treat patients with various needs. They also state that people with disabilities want straight, white teeth just like everyone else. They argue that a healthy mouth with straight, white teeth should be an achievable minimum for everyone.
The organizations’ highlight that other areas of health already offer personalized programs. This needs to happen more in dentistry as well.
What the Future Looks Like
iDAH and Oral-B hope their partnership will help spread the message that dentists can make small changes to be more accessible to individuals with disabilities. They hope more resources will be developed, highlighting that about 80% of people can have regular oral healthcare with just small adjustments. The goal is to encourage higher availability of resources and more training. iDAH and Oral-B want dentists to work with patients to see what they want or need during their dental treatment.
Most of us take the ability to visit the dentist for granted, but it isn’t as easy for people with disabilities. A recent partnership between Oral-B and iDAH hopes to spread awareness about the accessibility program. The partnership also encourages dentists to make small changes to improve accessibility, which will be possible with more resources at their disposal as awareness increases.
Oral health is important for everyone! Learn more about our services and teeth cleanings in River West Chicago today!