What does a dentist do when one of their patients is too frail to come into the practice? Bring the practice to the patient of course.
It was without hesitation that Dentist Dr Patty Tsai recently made a number of “out of practice” visits to patients who wouldn’t otherwise have been able to receive treatment.
Patty, who practices at the Gore Lumino clinic, feels confident that most dentists wouldn’t think twice to do the same if their patient was in need of treatment.
Patty reached out to her fellow Lumino clinicians late last year asking for help in finding a portable drill. One of her patients who resides a rest home had been travelling to the surgery which posed several hurdles.
Help came from NSK Oceania, who manufacture and distribute dental equipment and were able to lend her a portable drill at short notice.
”It was great that we at NSK were able to help Patty,” says Neralee Montague of NSK.
In the past, Patty had done a few simple extractions in rest homes, however December’s treatments were more challenging.
“Two of the patients we treated are based at Resthaven Retirement Village. The other is at Albany Rest Home,” says Patty.
“All of these patients have medical and mobility issues that will complicate their travelling to the practice.”
Patty agrees that there are a number of logistical and health and safety concerns associated with providing care outside of the surgery setting, however those issues should not stand in the way of maintaining oral health.
“Gore is small it’s no trouble at all just to drive down the road to see them,” she adds.
Patty performed a number of extractions on her patient at Albany Rest Home, in what was a 1.5 hour procedure. She also did some pro bono work at Resthaven Retirement Village.
Amy, Patty’s regular Dental Assistant came along for the trip and had to “battle with the portable suction”, which provided its own set of challenges.
Oral Health Therapist, Rochelle, preformed a full mouth scale and polish on one of her regular patients who would normally attend the clinic every six months. However mobility is now a problem as she is confined to her room at the home.
“I had to become a contortionist to squeeze in behind the bed and the window to be able to actually see properly,” says Rochelle.
Patty says working out of practice does make her appreciate the “simple things in surgery life, like a high speed suction!”
Patty foresees the need for rest home treatment to grow with the aging baby boomers.
“It’s no secret that more and more people are keeping their teeth for longer,” she says.
“Some patients have worked hard on achieving good oral health over their life time.”
Residing in a rest home should not pose a barrier to their continuing oral care, she says.
Patty has practiced at Lumino Gore since her graduation from the University of Otago. She enjoys all aspects of general dentistry, with particular interests in preventative and forensic dentistry.