Oral Health & Disability - the way forward

11 Mar 2005

Pictured at the launch of 'Oral Health and Disability - the way forward' were (from left to right) Professor Noel Claffey, Pro-Dean of Trinity College Dental Science School, Dr Angela Kerins, Chairperson, National Disability Authority, Professor June Nunn, Special Care Dentistry, Trinity College Dublin and Ms Deirdre Sadlier, Executive Director, Dental Health Foundation.Dental Treatment for People with Disabilities Often ‘Ad-hoc and Unsatisfactory’The Chairperson of the National Disability Authority Ms. Angela Kerins, has described the current dental care system for people with disabilities as often “ad-hoc and unsatisfactory”.Ms. Kerins was referring to the findings in the publication launched today, “Oral Health and Disability – the way forward” , which shows that people with a disability experience more oral health problems and require more treatment than those who do not have a disability. The report was launched jointly by the NDA, the Dental Health Foundation and Trinity College School of Dental Science.People with disabilities often have more oral and dental problems and require more treatment than the rest of the population. “The current health structure poses many challenges to the delivery of an equitable oral health service”, states the report. “In common with other health areas, the inverse law operates whereby those in most need, often have the worst provision of services.”The first National Oral Health Surveys of children and adults with disabilities were carried out over 2002-2003. 30% more dental decay was found in children who had a disability than those who did not. These children also have had more extractions and less preventive work, consequently, adults with disabilities have more missing teeth and need more dental treatment facilities to provide this care, with access to sedation and general anaesthesia, which are insufficient for most people with disabilities in Ireland.The report recommends that only small changes need to be made in order to see big differences in the oral health and disability sector. These proposals include providing education and training for the whole dental team, mainstreaming health provision for people with disabilities, promoting accessibility, and equity and defining what is meant by special needs in the oral health context. It is time for disability, and oral health in particular, to move away from “being something of concern to good hearted people” and progressing from charity to rights.“A one-size-fits-all approach to oral health services will not work. Within the disability community itself, people with various disabilities have very different needs and challenges”. The report reflects the different requirements of the disability sector when addressing the issue of oral health and concludes that inclusive research, into the needs and preferences of people with disabilities, their family members and carers, must be conducted.ENDS.For more information contact:Rachel Morrogh
Fleishman-Hillard Saunders
01 618 8429 / 086 101 2488 Jill Collins
Fleishman-Hillard Saunders
01 618 8431 / 087 211 6914A pdf version of the report is available by clicking here.