Coronavirus: information and updates

Dental care for disabled people

Some disabled people will be affected in ways that have implications for their dental care.

Warning Urgent appointments

If you think you need urgent dental treatment:

Find out how to get medical help from home (NHS)

Dental care problems

Dental care difficulties or damaging oral habits could mean:

  • being unable to clean teeth
  • having to eat soft food
  • having difficulty chewing or swallowing 
  • being worried about mouth examinations
  • having behavioural problems caused by not being able to communicate toothache or other sensations

Difficulties brushing teeth

There are a range of reasons why some people find it difficult to clean their teeth.

If you have difficulty controlling hand or arm movements, it can make it hard to clean teeth effectively. It might be easier to use a toothbrush with a special handgrip or other adaptation. Sometimes switching from a manual to an electric toothbrush might help.

Your dentist should be able to give you general advice. An occupational therapist may also be able to advise you.

Cost of dental treatment

Treatment is available under the National Health Service or privately, depending on the dental practice you register with.

NHS treatment is free to those under 18, pregnant women and for treatment within a year of giving birth.

Generally, NHS treatment is also free to anyone receiving means-tested benefits.

If you are on a particularly low income but do not claim any benefits, you may still be able to get help with dental charges.

Check if you have an exemption from paying NHS costs (NHS)

You can claim help with dental costs by filling in form HC1 from the NHS.

People who have to pay NHS charges may be able to get help. This is based on your income and treatment needs.

NHS Low Income Scheme

Jobcentre Plus offices and NHS hospitals should also have HC1 forms. Some GPs, dentists and opticians may also have them.

If you think you'll be paying for your treatment, ask for a treatment plan and estimate of charges at the time of the check-up. This helps avoid confusion over payment.

Finding a dentist

Not all dental surgeries are accessible. Some dentists will lack specialist knowledge or the experience needed to work with disabled people.

Get a list of NHS dentists in your area.

If you view the individual dentist's listing, you will find access information under ‘facilities’.

Ensuring that the dentist has information before your visit will help you. The dentist will need to know:

  • medical history, including how it affects you or your child, medication, recent medical procedures and allergies
  • details of your doctor and, if relevant, hospital consultant, speech and language therapist or other professionals
  • any concerns or anxieties about your or your child’s dental care
  • any additional needs, such as an interpreter or translator, mobility or access issues, both to the building and treatment chair

Dental care: further information

Last reviewed by Scope on: 22/02/2022

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