The author, second from left, poses with some guests at the Dental Impact seminar in Chicago.
by Noel Kelsch, RDHAP
Bradley Scott Sanders is simply a genius. He has engineered devices to meet the needs of thousands of clients with special needs. He is the spokesperson for a major corporation that created a way for everyone to have a voice; he is a suave businessman. Brad Sanders has a wicked sense of humor and towers above most people. He has changed the way that people view people with disabilities.
Would it surprise you to know that Brad Sanders has cerebral palsy to the point that he has limited control over his body, and that he speaks through a machine called a dynavox?
His mind is amazing, and you will never laugh as hard as when you hear Brad speak. His parents joined him at RDH Under One Roof to share the family’s experience of living on several continents, seeing the world together, and enlightening people about the possibilities that exist for everyone. The impact he had on the lives of those that attended Dental Impact was profound in late July (the seminar was part of the RDH Under One Roof conference in Chicago)!
James (last name not given for privacy) is a recent college graduate who graduated with honors. He is very articulate, and one would not be surprised to see him model for the cover of a magazine. Any mother would be proud to call this young man her son. He is caring, compassionate, and giving. He has a great paying job and many friends. He shared his experience in the dental setting and helped us understand how important language, respect, and communication are for everyone in dentistry and the medical profession. Would you be surprised to learn that James is HIV positive? He enlightened the audience and sent everyone home with a great understanding of communication and the rights of those who experience a disability.
Using the expertise of those living with disabilities, the audience at RDH Under One Roof got to hear first hand what it’s like to “walk a mile in my shoes.” Over the next few months you will learn more about James and Brad in upcoming articles in RDH magazine. Their stories will enlighten us all about interacting with those with special needs in the dental setting. According to the Bureau of Census, about one in five Americans live with some kind of disability and one in 10 have a severe disability. About nine million people in the United States have disabilities so severe that they require personal assistance to carry out everyday activities. Understanding the needs and tools for serving these clients is vital in our roles as health-care providers. The oral needs of patients with debilitating diseases in the dental setting and the community are as varied as the patients themselves. This course and its participants set out to help change the gap in oral care for those with disabilities. The course helped participants understand how to reach special needs clients, educate clients and caregivers on preventive measures, and implement a volunteer project in communities across the United States. Noel Kelsch, RDHAP, helped the audience understand the adaptations needed for direct and indirect care, how to develop a protocol for treating patients, and how the Americans with Disabilities Act applies to the dental setting. The entire audience wrote a grant while they were in the course. Brenda Kibbler, BS, RDHAP, taught the audience how to work with patients with special needs, from how to prevent aspiration pneumonia to working with ventilator-dependent clients. She shared the pattern to follow for understanding and meeting needs. Leticia Reyes, RDH, MS, gave everyone the resources to start a program in their community. She provided the audience with all the necessary steps for serving clients in the chair and reaching out to the community. She helped the dental health-care professionals understand the importance of working with community programs so as not to have to reinvent the wheel. Lisa Handa, who has a BS from University of the Pacific, shared a packaged program for meeting the needs of special needs clients. She enlightened the audience on interaction and oral care education for other health-care providers.
Seminar attendees were given tools in order to foster community outreach programs in their communities.
All members of the audience were given the tools to go home and implement this program. Committee members Diane Corbin, Lisa Stillman, Sandra Berger, Brenda Kibbler, Leticia Reyes, Nancy Brohawn, Jodie Heimbach, and staff members from Xlear and Medicom discussed treating ventilator-dependent clients, wheel chair transfer, adaptable aids for toothbrushes and oral care, behavior modification and serving patients with what is there, Xylitol from the staff of Xlear, infection control/susceptible host from the staff of Medicom, and probiotics.
Very special thanks to Medicom, DUX, and Xlear, who sponsored this course. Medicom made a jump drive for every single audience member to take home with everything on it from the course so they could start a program in their community. Medicom, DUX, and Xlear supplied incredible samples to get programs started. Other sponsors included Sunstar, Philips, Johnson and Johnson, GC America, 30-Second Smile, Plaque Vac, Culus, PHB, and Specialized Care.
Join us in Vegas as Dental Impact focuses on the disease that affects 46% of the population at some point in their lifetime(1) — mental illness. This course will give everyone an understanding of classifications, etiology, treatments, oral impacts, and dental interventions for clients living with mental disorders. Each health-care professional, from nurses to therapists, will be given the tools to implement a program from the chair or in the community for serving these clients.
(1) Kessler RC, Berglund P, Demler O, Jin R, Merikangas KR, Walters EE (June 2005). "Lifetime prevalence and age-of-onset distributions of DSM-IV disorders in the National Comorbidity Survey Replication." Arch. Gen. Psychiatry 62 (6): 593–602.