For dental patients with limited mobility, difficulties traveling to a traditional dentist’s office, or in high-risk populations for COVID-19, mobile dentistry is an increasingly available option in the US. The mobile dental clinic is a form of mobile dental care, in which your dentist travels to your residence in a specially designed mobile dental vehicle (MDV).
Many or most seniors living in care facilities are no longer able to drive. They often cannot or do not want to rely on their adult children for transportation. Many seniors may also have other challenging physical or mental health issues that can make it difficult for them to visit a traditional dentist office. With the mobile dental clinic, the patient does not have to travel far to have a visit with their dentist.
By making dental care more available and more convenient to seniors, mobile dental clinics can help reduce the number of emergency room visits as well as long-term complications arising from basic dental issues. According to Dentistry Journal, the US geriatric population (over 60 years old) is responsible for 50,881 hospital emergency room visits per year due to a basic dental complaint (caries, pulpal and periapical disease, gingival or periodontal disease).
Mobile dental clinics can also be beneficial to dentists as well. Rather than relying on all patients for the day to keep their appointments, for an on-site dental clinic, a missed appointment can be quickly replaced by another on-site patient.
What’s in a mobile dental vehicle?
The MDV (usually a trailer or van) is fully equipped with all the standard dental equipment you will find at a physical dentist office. The highlight is the surgery room, equipped with dental chair, suction device, radiographic/x-ray unit, computers, sterilizers, and various other instruments. For accessibility, there is often a wheelchair lift at the entrance. There may be lifts attached to the wheels that can stabilize and keep the vehicle horizontal when it is parked on a slope.
A typical mobile dental vehicle:
Air filtration is essential to provide clean/fresh air and to avoid contamination. Water tanks are used where clean water may not be available from municipal water or local water supplies. Many MDVs are also equipped with electrical generators.
Note: Mobile Dental Clinic is not the same as house call dentistry – another form of mobile dentistry. With house call dentistry, your dentist and their assistant will visit you at your home. They will bring portable versions of needed equipment that can be carried to your home.
Is Mobile Dental Clinics Right for You?
From eliminating the need to travel, to having treatment in the comfort & familiar setting of your residence, mobile dental clinics can be a great option for the geriatric patient living assisted living facilities.
If you are a senior living in an assisted-living facility, or a family member, talk to your care facility administrator and ask about having a mobile dental clinic come to your senior community.