Special Needs adults comprise 15% of our adult community. In a Canadian adult population of about 30 million, Special Needs adults would constitute the largest city in the country.
A new report by the UK government found that this group has significant needs for oral healthcare because of:
higher levels of gum (periodontal) disease
greater gingival inflammation
higher numbers of missing teeth and untreated cavities
increased rates of toothlessness
higher plaque levels
poorer access to preventative dentistry
In short, Special Needs adults have poor oral health.
Governments in the US, Canada and the UK have tried to solve this problem with Special Needs dental care programs. In Ontario, for example, a Special Needs adult has free access to a dentist. In the UK, the National Health Service has special teams of dentists serving the Special Needs community.
Have these programs worked? Not according to the UK report and similar assessments in Canada and the US. It seems oral disease in Special Needs is mostly untouched by government programs.
Ask a dentist why this is the case. You will likely hear the fee schedule does not cover the cost of providing oral healthcare. Ask a patient (and his/her family) and you will likely hear the anxiety is too great and the inconvenience too much.
Ask a scientist and you will learn there is a simple solution. Treat the oral bacteria causing dental decay and gum disease. Painlessly, without aerosols, and with less anxiety than going to the doctor.