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Special care dentistry in a charity clinic: Demographic analysis and barriers to care in Singapore

Guang Xu David Lima,b,c*

aDental Services, Tzu Chi Foundation Free Clinic, Singapore, bOral Health, Therapy, Nanyang Polytechnic, Singapore, cGeriatrics and Special Care Dental Centre, National Dental Centre, Singapore

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Open Access funded by Buddhist Compassion Relief Tzu Chi Foundation



Objective: Geriatric and special care dentistry (GSD) aims to improve oral health of seniors or adults disabilities facing barriers to care. This is coherent with the philosophy of “compassion relief.” Tzu Chi Singapore’s Free Clinic exemplifies this through promoting health via various avenues to reach out. This article aims to provide a demographic analysis of patients with special care needs (PSCN), including age, gender, race, medical diagnoses, and treatment rendered. The patients were appraised on their complexity with the British Dental Association case mix model. Materials and Methods: PSCN seen by a dentist in Tzu Chi Singapore from November 2016 to December 2017 were recorded. The profiling of patients was done retrospectively. Results: Fifty‑five dental PSCN were treated over 82 visits. 58.2% were seen in the free clinic, 27.3% in nursing homes, and 14.5% in oral health day programs for adults with intellectual disability. Their average age was 61.2 years, and the clinic was attended by patients of different races. Their medical profiles were grouped into seven categories, and the average case mix total banded score was 21.6, indicating that the average patient had “severe complexity”. A few themes relevant to Singapore were discussed, such as specialist GSD clinics, accessing dental services, socioeconomic status, state versus charity healthcare, and provision of future GSD services. Conclusions: Charity dental services such as free clinic can capture a niche of complex patients who may become marginalized in an established public healthcare.
Keywords: Charity health services, Geriatric dentistry, Singapore, Special care dentistry

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