Scientists have developed a speech app to help people with learning or communication disabilities prepare for a visit to the dentist.
The Stories at the Dentist communication system helps patients deal with any anxiety or stress they feel by letting them know what to expect and how to become more involved in their care and treatment.
It may also lessen the need patients to be sedated or even for treatment to be abandoned because a patient becomes too upset to continue.
The app is the result of an 18-month project between Dundee and St Andrews universities, NHS Tayside and Capability Scotland. Patients and community dental staff across Tayside were involved in the design and evaluation of the app, which runs on an iPad.
“This app is already transforming patients’ experiences in the dental setting,” said Gillian Elliott, senior dental officer with the community dental service.
“By improving communication, and therefore understanding, patients can become fully involved in decisions about their care. We have found that the app reduces anxiety as patients are fully prepared about what to expect.”
For some conditions such as autism, knowing ahead of time what will happen at a dental visit is particularly important.