Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Making the World Smile – How Dental Care Is being Made More Accessible with Mobile Dentistry Units

In the western world, people love to joke about avoiding their regular trip to the dentist, but there are large parts of the world's population that don't have the luxury of "avoiding" their dentists.  They simply cannot go to a dental clinic because the nearest one is too far away from their home.
Fortunately, improvements in mobile care mean that it's now possible for patients to have dental care brought to them.  Mobile trailers can be used as dental laboratories, and visit nursing homes, schools, rural villages, and even military camps.  Some of the more sophisticated mobile dental units fill a mini artic trailer, and are equipped with x-ray viewers, three-way syringes, air scalers, a selection of handpieces, and an LED curing light, allowing most dental work to be done on the move.
Vital Access to Care
Dental trailers give people in rural areas access to much needed dental care.  All cliches about putting smiles on people's faces aside, mobile dentistry ensures that everyone gets the dental care that they need.
According to research by the WWAMI Rural Health Research Centre, those in rural populations that have difficulty accessing dental care have higher rates of dental caries and permanent tooth loss than those in urban areas.  Poor oral health is not just inconvenient and occasionally painful - it can interfere with day to day life, and according to some studies can be an indicator of poor health in other areas.  The National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research is currently investigating the link between oral infections and general health conditions such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease.
It's possible that any links are signs of poor access to health care in general, rather than an indication that poor dental health causes other health issues, but the possibility of any link at all is still worth exploring.  The type of mini artic trailer used in dentistry could be applied to other areas of health care too.  Hospital trailers are already being used for outreach care and disaster recovery in many parts of the world, and the facilities that they can offer are becoming more and more sophisticated.
The Future of Mobile Dentistry
Existing mobile dentistry products can do the job quite well, but are cumbersome and difficult to set up.  A new product, the MDU 5 from Newcodent Limited, aims to solve this problem by offering all of the important dentistry trails and a lightweight patient's chair that can be carried in a backpack, and set up in just 15 minutes.  The MDU 5 can be powered by a small generator or a car battery, and uses only 380W.
These lightweight, easy to carry mobile dental units mean that in the worst of emergencies, dentists are not confined to their trailers.  If care was needed in an area that a mini artic trailer could not reach, it would be possible to set up an ad-hoc dental room elsewhere.