A UBC School of Dentistry researcher is hoping his study will ultimately help increase access to dental health care for adults who have a developmental disability.
Dr. Amin Salsami is researching the real-life experiences of British Columbia residents who have a developmental disability and their families with the dental health system.
He’s optimistic his findings, coupled with the results of a concurrent UBC study on the legal obligations of government and dentists to provide dental care, will begin to initiate change.
“The best thing that could happen are two things,” Amin says.
“Maybe we can convince people who have some sway and pull to increase funding and get the universities to put a little more emphasis on training students (how to support) patients who have developmental disabilities.”
Amin began this research because he says “the issue kept coming up. After 18/19/adulthood the services seemed to drop off dramatically.” He says there’s a decline in both government support and doctors who are willing to see adult patients who have a developmental disability.
Amin is in the data collection phase of his research project and is meeting with different B.C. service organizations and self-advocates in the coming months.
Burnaby Association for Inclusion (BACI) self-advocates recently invited Amin to attend their meeting.
Self-advocate Gerry Juzenas says the meeting went well. He shared some of his experiences about his own dental health care.
“Some of my friends were really impressed,” Gerry says.
“Now they’re going to go back (to the dentist). They’re ready to make that move.”
BACI is involved because of its interest in supporting the examination and research into the lack of dental care for people who have a disability and its impact on all aspects of their health and well-being. BACI hopes there will be social policy changes and increased access to dental care as a result of Amin’s work.
Amin will be presenting the findings of the study in 2014.
Those interested in sharing their stories and suggestions for improving dental health care in B.C. can do so by attending an upcoming meeting.
BACI hosted Amin again on Feb. 26.
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