Article: Volume 46 Number 5 Page 428 - May 2019

  Dent Update 2019; 46: 428-437  Read article

Special Care Dentistry:  Providing Dental Care in Prisons

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Abstract: This paper will summarize some of the clinical and organizational challenges for dentists and dental care professionals who are interested in working in custodial environments. This briefly covers some of the difficulties and pressures that the dental team face in providing dental care within these very specific environments. There are some features unique to this population group that can negatively affect their dental health experiences, related to socio-economic, lifestyle and other factors. In general, prisoners enjoy poorer dental health and mental health than the general population and present a greater degree of learning difficulties than the population at large. This requires additional skills and training for the dental teams treating this group and presents a number of challenges not always found in the provision of routine primary care dentistry.

Clinical relevance: Although the article describes the provision of care for the prison environment in England, this is mirrored in other parts of the United Kingdom and the same general considerations will apply and be recognized in prisons in other national systems of dental care. Many of the areas covered are relevant independent of the systems in which care is delivered.

Author notes: Paul Howard, BDS, DPDS, PGCE, DipMedEd, MGDS RCS(Eng), FFGDP(UK), FHEA, MICPD ILTM, Lead Clinician Specialist Occasional Care/Specialist in Special Care Dentistry, Solent NHS Trust, Fanshawe Wing, Royal South Hants Hospital, Southampton, SO14 0YG, UK. Email:

Objective: To describe the provision of care for the prison environment in England, much of which applies to the UK and beyond.


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