Dental union urges dentists not to treat obese patients

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The Dental Defence Union has warned dentists not to treat obese patients amid fears they could break equipment and then take legal action.

The DDU suggests that dentists should refrain from offering treatment to patients weighing over 20 stone due to concerns over the safety of using dental chairs. Some chairs are not built to sustain excess weight and the union has warned dentists that offering care to patients could carry a risk of legal proceedings if the chair breaks while the patient is undergoing treatment.

Rather than providing treatment at a conventional dental practice, the DDU recommends that dentists refer patients weighing over 20 stone to visit specialist clinics, which are kitted out with equipment that boasts higher weight limits.

Former head of the DDU, Rupert Hoppenbrouwers, said that there has been a marked increase in the number of dental professionals seeking advice from the union related to treating patients who are overweight. In the last 25 years, the number of people who are classed as overweight or obese has risen dramatically, and the vast majority of clinics are fitted with chairs that have a weight limit of 20 stone. Some dentists are asking for advice because they have fears over patient safety and they are also worried about patients feeling that they are being discriminated against as a result of their weight.

In the most recent edition of the DDU Journal, the union has published a warning, advising dentists to tread carefully when treating overweight patients and to avoid providing treatment for those weighing over 20 stone using conventional equipment.

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