Dental care for people with disabilities

If you have a disability it may be hard to visit a dental surgery. There are options available to make sure you have full access to dental care and treatment.

Referral to a health centre or clinic

Your disability or medical condition may mean you need extra time, care or special features to receive proper dental treatment. A health centre or clinic can provide this.

Some hospitals or health centres offer specialist alternative treatment, which may involve sedation or general anaesthetic.

This may be most suitable for:

  • children with disabilities
  • someone who has a severe learning disability
  • someone who, due to their particular impairment, is unable to stay still during the treatment period

Home visits

If you are unable to visit a dentist, they may be able to bring dental treatment to where you live. Treatment options outside the surgery are limited. The time of day when the dentist can visit may also be limited due to normal surgery hours.

General dental practitioners may treat you at your home or temporary residence, provided your condition requires this and they agree to accept you as a patient for Health Service care. You should confirm with the dentist that care is being provided under Health Service arrangements.

Alternatively, the Health Service community dental service provided by your local primary care trust may be able to visit you at home. Your doctor or a local dentist can give you contact details.

Medication

If you are taking any medication it's important to let your dentist know. Your dentist will also need to know:

  • the name of your doctor
  • the name of your consultant at your hospital if you are taking medication
  • if you've had an operation
  • if you use, for example, an inhaler

Your rights to health care

Under the Disability Discrimination Act (DDA) you have rights of access to dentist surgeries and dentists should make 'reasonable adjustments' to their premises and procedures. A small dental surgery would perhaps not be expected to make the type of adjustment that a hospital would be able to make.

More about dental care

There is more information on nidirect's Dentists and Health Service dental charges page.

The Oral Health Foundation website has information about all aspects of dental health, including dental care for people with special needs.

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