Phoenix-Area Dental Clinic Addresses Oral Health Needs Of People With Disabilities

Published: Monday, July 16, 2018 - 5:05am
Updated: Monday, July 16, 2018 - 9:11am

Learning how to care for the oral health of older adults and people with disabilities takes time and training. But one place in the Phoenix area is taking the correct steps to ensure the proper care. 

Maureen Perry is the director of special care dentistry at the Arizona School of Dentistry and Oral Health. She said the Advanced Care Clinic, a comprehensive, patient-centered dentistry for those with advanced oral healthcare needs that is a part of the school, is really the only practice of its kind around.

"There was really no place for people who had intellectual or developmental disabilities, geriatric patients, or patients who were really medically complex," Perry said. "There just wasn’t any place for them to be treated as far as dental care is concerned, in pretty much the state of Arizona, certainly the Phoenix metro area."

Another issue is that people are living longer and with multiple chronic conditions.

"And so it gets very complicated to deliver that sort of dental care," Perry said. 

Scott Howell, an assistant professor at A.T. Still University, said dental students and residents get to work with people they may not encounter in private practice.

"And so working with frail seniors and dealing with these serious diseases, and complex individuals and complex medical conditions and people with disabilities, you need training," he said. "The dentistry doesn’t change that much, it’s the management of person that’s what’s different, and that takes time to learn that."

A 2012 study by the Journal of the American Dental Association found that people with intellectual and developmental disabilities are more likely to have poor oral hygiene.

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