Access to dental services is one of the most alarming and increasing problems that the patients frequently experience. Especially when they live in the suburbs or rural areas of the country, some other factors for lack of dental care may include financial struggle and lack of time.
Looking at such circumstances, many dental offices have started to incorporate unique ways of providing dental services, which are more convenient and accessible to everyone. One of them is the mobile dental clinic. A mobile dental clinic usually contains portable dental tools, light compressors, and generators.
The mobile dental clinic is specially designed for those children, seniors, and others who belong to lower strata of society. Moreover, people who cannot obtain dental care on their own and are sure to benefit by bringing mobile dental clinics to their neighborhood.
Today’s article will highlight the features of a mobile dental clinic. Furthermore, we will discuss the purpose of a mobile dental clinic.
What is a mobile dental clinic?
Usually, a patient with tooth problems has to make an appointment with the dental office before getting treatment. Moreover, the patient has to travel to the dental clinic to meet the dentist, get the evaluation, and receive appropriate treatment. (1)
Mobile dentistry is an innovative way of reaching out to as many patients in dental need as possible. It presents an entirely different scenario. Typically, in a mobile dental clinic, the dentist and staff arrive at a facility where the patients are already located. This facility can be a school, community center, old age care facility, or even a sizeable manufacturing facility.
Some mobile dentists also visit nursing homes that do not provide dental services to their patients. Typically, a mobile dental office consists of portable dental equipment kits in a car or utility vehicle, which is easy to move from one site to another. This facility helps to save time, money, and energy.
What is the purpose of a mobile dental clinic?
Typically, the prime purpose of the mobile dental clinic is to provide secure access to dental services especially to
- far-reaching localities
- Underserved people
- frail elderly
- children living in slums and rural areas
such groups of people usually lack proper dental care, which leads to increased risk of plaque buildup and gum disease. Furthermore, it increases the potential of causing severe complications like heart disease and fatality. (2)
Some other group of people who can benefit from mobile dental clinic may include –
- busy executives with time limitations
- children and seniors with special needs
- patients who would otherwise miss their routine dental visits.
- bedridden patients with injury or serious ailment
What are the types of the mobile dental clinic?
Typically there are two types of the mobile dental clinic –
Mobile Dental Van Clinics
This is the most common type of mobile dental facility which has an in-built efficient design, space, portability, completely set up and ready to use on arrival feature. Moreover, it is an affordable choice for a dentist as it requires minimum maintenance. Some of the benefits of mobile dental van clinic may include –
- designed to allow access for the disabled.
- Contributes to move and manage patients (3) efficiently
- Can be used effectively in rural areas where people do not have access to dental care
- An excellent choice for providing emergency dental aid in nursing homes
Portable Dental Clinics
This facility is similar to a mobile dental van clinic. However, it does not include the inbuilt facility of a dental chair inside the van. Instead, the dentist and staff usually have to pack equipment and resources into a trailer followed by the unloading and set up the clinic at a host site. As the work gets completed, the dentist and staff will have to re-pack the equipment and take it to the van.
Such a process usually takes three to four extra hours on setting up and re-packing the equipment. Moreover, a portable dental clinic requires some technical skills and workflow plans to set up.
Some of the benefits of a portable dental clinic may include –
- They are usually larger, with more dental chairs and ample space to move
- Has a waiting place for patients
- once up and running, the dentist can treat more patients (4)
- They are cheaper to buy
What are the disadvantages of a mobile dental clinic?
Some of the drawbacks of the mobile dental clinic may include –
- Treating residential patients may require more time and patience than treating those in an office.
- Travel and consultation times reduce the number of daily patients.
- Equipment requires movement to and from a car, while sterilization procedures are performed elsewhere. (5)
- Flexibility is essential as dental treatment plans are secondary to medical requirements.
- The area in which a procedure is performed may be more challenging to keep clean and sterile.
Take away message
A mobile dental clinic is an innovative method of serving patients who do not have proper access to routine dental care. For example, children in rural areas, bedridden patients, older population, and nursing homes with no dental facilities.
The mobile dental clinic meets the professional and personal goals of many dentists. It provides the option of portability, ease of performing procedures, and access to many dental care patients. However, there are some drawbacks regarding the safety and sterilization of equipment and time management.
There are many different models of mobile dental clinics trying to improve and make dental services more accessible. There are currently two types of models being practiced: a mobile dental van clinic and a portable dental clinic.