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Special Needs Dentistry – How to Find the Right Dentist?

Posted on December 1, 2011 | in Special Needs Dentistry | by

When it comes to seeing the dentist, lots of folks are concerned with convenience of the appointment and comfort level involved with the procedure. Often these are two of the primary reasons we choose our dentists in the first place.
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Comfort and convenience take on a whole other realm of importance when patients with special needs go on the hunt for a new dentist.
 
Special needs dentistry, also known as special care dentistry, is a specialty of dentistry concerned with the oral health of people who have intellectual disability, or who are affected by other medical, physical, or psychiatric issues.

We saw an interesting blog post recently from a Canadian woman discussing the seemingly obstruction ridden route of trying to find a dentist that will accommodate her – and her wheelchair, cerebral palsy, and over-active gag reflex.

This woman’s name is Glenda Watson Hyatt, and you can read her blog post(s) here: DoItMyselBlog.com.

We recommend it, along with being a fellow coffee fan, Ms. Glenda weaves a straightforward and informative prose, backed up with gin-clear humor.

Seems in the past if Glenda needed dental work a hospital visit was required, often with the unwelcome addition of general anesthesia.

This is true for many people, whether it’s cerebral palsy, autism, or MS…or any other physical, medical, or psychiatric issue.

But the good news is, ‘special needs dentists’ are out there – and we don’t mean to harp on the special needs nomenclature, but we are trying to emphasize the keywords which can be searched online to find a qualified, reputable, professional, and personable dentist.
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Here are 5 ways to Search for a Special Needs Dentist:
 
1. Ask primary physician for a referral.
2. Ask support groups for references.
3. Search the state dental boards.
4. Ask local hospital administration.
5. Search online – research an array keywords for the most accurate results relative to the specific area.
 
“Special Needs Dentist Your Town
“Special Care Dentist Your Town
“Special Care Dentistry Your Town
“Special Needs Dentistry Your Town
 
Here’s a great special needs dentist we know of in Virginia, Dr. Hanah Pham. Their website does a great job of explaining the availability – and more importantly that content is indexed by the search engines…so when people search online in Dr. Pham’s area, that content can be displayed to the user.

Getting the word out that her office welcomes special needs patients proved just as challenging for Dr. Pham, as searching for a special needs dentist was for Glenda.

And that’s where all this technobabble social media webternet mumbo jumbo can actually help!

Every one of us probably knows someone who can benefit from a special needs dentist, don’t be too shy to share the info!

According to wikipedia, Special Needs Dentists require an extra three years of postgraduate training after attaining their dental degree.

They are then eligible for Board Certification by the American Board of Special Care Dentistry (Diplomate ABSCD).

No matter the issue, there is quality dental health care available to everyone.

Sometimes the dentists that can accommodate these services just need to do a better job of informing their local communities, and communicating the message on their websites, blogs, and social media profiles, so we can all spread the word when one of our loved ones is in need of some special dental care.

We look forward to Glenda’s follow-up blog post after her upcoming dental appointment.

Good Luck Glenda!

Got any more ideas how we could all help connect patients in need with special needs dentists?

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+Chris Barnard is Managing Editor of DentalPatientNews.com, a patient-centric Social Dental Network blog dedicated to enabling the digital dental health conversation - and the eradication of the cavity creeps.
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