Dr. David Burdett’s New Westminster dental clinic debuts what’s believed to be the first wheelchair accessible dental chair in British Columbia.
With more than 40 years of experience as a dentist, Dr. David Burdett has seen his fair share of technological advances in the profession, but the owner of the Diamond Dental Centre in New Westminster had never seen anything quite like the wheelchair accessible dentist chair, built by UK manufacturer Design Specific.
“I saw it at a dental conference, and I was really excited,” Burdett says. “I’ve had a number of patients in wheelchairs before and I thought, ‘Wow, this is a great idea.’ I was building a new office at the time that was close to the hospital. We had the financing available, so it made sense.”
The fully adjustable, battery-powered chair can safely support a patient up to 300 kg. It’s composed of three parts: a compact wheelchair recliner, a bariatric bench, and a universal headrest.
To access the dental chair, the bariatric bench is removed, and patients wheel backwards into the recliner until their chair rests against the backrest. Once positioned, the wheelchair recliner tilts back, and patients can use the headrest as needed. Both manual wheelchairs and power chairs can access the dental chair, and no transfer is required.
Sadly, you won’t find this level of accessibility at most Canadian dental practices.
Perceived lack of demand and financial burden are the most likely reasons: – accessible dental chairs cost almost three times as much as regular dental chairs. “Many (dentists) might think, ‘I don’t have many patients who could use that,” says Burdett.
But this isn’t true. In fact, a recent finding in the Journal of the Canadian Dental Association states that dental care remains one of the most required health services for millions of people with disabilities in Canada, yet it is also the hardest for them to find and access. Burdett’s new chair is a small step to help close this gap. It’s the first accessible dental chair in BC, and one of only a few in all of Canada.
“Patients have seen the chair and mention they have a friend or a relative that could really benefit from this—those connections are everywhere,” Burdett says.
He also notes the chair negates the need for extra staff for transfers and saves time for everyone—him and his staff, and more importantly, patients—during appointments. The chair is also a good option for heavier and elderly people, as the size allows for more comfort and adaptability.
He concedes the chair has limitations. “It’s great for short procedures, like checkups or cleanings,” explains Burdett. “But long procedures may be difficult because the dentist would have to perform standing up or bent over, and that’s putting our bodies at risk after long periods of time.”
Still, Burdett clearly sees that the benefits outweigh the limitations.
“When I graduated dental school, going into a building with any kind of wheelchair access, let alone an office like this, would have been amazing,” he says. “Things have changed over the years, but obviously there’s still more to do.”
Here at SCI BC, we’re happy to give a shoutout to Dr. Burdett, in the hopes that more BC dentists might consider adding a wheelchair accessible chair to their clinics. Readers of The Spin can also spread the word—please don’t hesitate to show your own dentist this story and tell him or her how this could make a difference in your life.
For more details about the accessible dental chair and Diamond Dental Centre, visit diamonddentalcentre.ca. Please note: parking at Dr. Burdett’s office is limited and located at a distance. Contact the office for directions and further information on how to access the building.
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