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23rd May 2016

What makes a good dentist for somebody with a learning disability?

When I moved house I registered with a new dentist. I asked if they treated people with learning disabilities. The receptionist told me that they did so I made an appointment.

Before the dentist started looking at my teeth, I asked her if she knew what it meant when I raised my hand. She said she didn’t. I explained that this is a signal I used with my old dentist. If I needed her to stop what she was doing and let me take a break, I would put my hand up. Although she agreed, she ignored me when I raised my hand and carried on working. I started finding going to the dentist very stressful.

I would give this dentist 3 out of ten.

In the end, I stopped going and went back to my old dentist, even though it is much further away from where I live. This dentist is really good.

The reception staff are very friendly. When I get any paperwork, they explain what it says to me.

The dentist goes slowly and explains what he is going to do before he does it. When I had to have a brace, I needed to put horrible plasticine stuff in my mouth. The dentist explained to me what it was going to taste like so I was prepared.

As I said earlier, we have a signal for “please stop.” When I put up my hand he stops what he is doing and we have a little break. The appointment is never rushed, we do it at a pace I am comfortable with.

The dentist is very good at communicating with me and giving me advice about how to look after my teeth. He took the time to watch how I brushed my teeth and tell me what I was doing wrong. He gave me a timer so I would brush my teeth for the right amount of time. Before, I didn’t brush them for long enough.

I would give this dentist 10 out of 10!

Paul Scarrott

My Life My Choice Expert

I have a learning disability. I live a fairly independent life and care for my wife who also has a learning disability. I went to special schools when I was growing up and have been on disability related benefits for most of my adult life.I have been a trustee of My Life My Choice since 2009. I led the My Life My Choice campaigns that challenged the treatment of people with learning disabilities in Winterbourne view, and the Justice for LB campaign about a young Oxford man with learning disabilities, Connor Sparrowhawk, who died a preventable death whilst being “cared” for by Southern Health at Slade House, Oxford.I have a good knowledge of best practice in health and social care settings. I am an expert by experience for the NHS care and treatment reviews, and have carried out a number of inspections since 2014. I was an expert by experience for CQC between 2008 and 2012. I have also trained Health and Social Care students at Oxford Brookes University.I am very involved in my local community. I have served on the Thames Valley Police Independent Advisory Group since 2011. I serve on focus groups for Oxford University Hospitals NHS Trust to help improve services for people with learning disabilities. I won the Oxfordshire Volunteer of the Year Award 2011 for my work with Oxfordshire County Council in helping them to improve services through many consultations and focus groups.

One thought on “What makes a good dentist for somebody with a learning disability?”

  1. Paul Griffiths says:

    Great blog post – telling it as it is and as it should be.

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