Special Care Dental Nursing
Special Care Dentistry is about providing and enabling the delivery of oral care for people with an impairment or disability, where this terminology is defined in the broadest of terms. Thus, Special Care Dentistry is concerned with:
‘The improvement of oral health of individuals and groups in society, who have a physical, sensory, intellectual, mental, medical, emotional or social impairment or disability or, more often, a combination of a number of these factors’
The NEBDN Certificate in Special Care Dental Nursing is a qualification suitable for dental nurses who help to care for people whose health and social needs may require special oral health provision. The syllabus is structured to ensure that the candidate receives a broad range of knowledge and understanding relevant to special care dentistry. This includes social and ethical issues together with a working knowledge of the relevant current legislation and guidance.
You will study the more common causes of impairment and disability that develop in childhood and progress into adult life e.g. Down syndrome, autism and cerebral palsy. You will study acquired disability in adults e.g. rheumatoid arthritis and multiple sclerosis, and study medically compromising conditions e.g. bleeding disorders and cardiovascular disease. Mental health impairments such as schizophrenia are also covered.
Through this qualification, you will gain knowledge and understanding of the impact of impairment and disability on people and their families. You will develop an understanding of the barriers to oral health care that people with disabilities face and you will develop the confidence and knowledge to help to reduce those barriers and improve access to oral care. You will also study pain and anxiety management and learn how communication skills can be improved and used e.g. when conversing with people who hear voices or with people with sensory impairments.
There is a focus on the important role of the dental nurse in organising care, arranging access, liaison with multidisciplinary teams, supporting the patient, families and carers, follow-on care and delivering strong relevant oral health care messages . Most importantly you will learn the importance of holistic, patient centred care.
In 2008 Special Care Dentistry was formally recognised as a speciality in the UK. The interest and enthusiasm for developing dedicated special care dental teams continues to grow apace. Significant numbers of people in our communities live with disability and many have complex additional needs. Good oral health can make a real difference to quality of life especially in terms of self-esteem, appearance, social interaction, function, and comfort. We recognise the need for dental nurses who have the empathy, skills, knowledge and understanding to make a vital contribution to safe, effective, person centred oral health care.