The value of education in special care dentistry as a means of reducing inequalities in oral health

Authors


Alison Dougall
Dublin Dental University Hospital
Trinity College
Dublin
Ireland
Tel: +353 1 612 7210
Fax: +353 1 612 7298
e-mail: alison.dougall@dental.tcd.ie

Abstract

People with disability are subject to inequality in oral health both in terms of prevalence of disease and unmet healthcare needs. Over 18% of the global population is living with moderate to severe functional problems related to disability, and a large proportion of these persons will require Special Care Dentistry at some point in their lifetime. It is estimated that 90% of people requiring Special Care Dentistry should be able to access treatment in a local, primary care setting. Provision of such primary care is only possible through the education and training of dentists. The literature suggests that it is vital for the dental team to develop the necessary skills and gain experience treating people with special needs in order to ensure access to the provision of oral health care. Education in Special Care Dentistry worldwide might be improved by the development of a recognised academic and clinical discipline and by providing international curricula guidelines based on the International Classification of Functioning, Disability and Health (ICF, WHO). This article aims to discuss the role and value of promoting and harmonising education in Special Care Dentistry as a means of reducing inequalities in oral health.

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