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When you attend a dental appointment, you will be asked to sign a form to say you consent to dental examinations and treatment being carried out. To be able to sign this form you must be able to understand what you are singing and why. If a person has not got the ability to make this decision they are deemed as not having the capacity to consent. This could be due to a learning disability or progressive disease such as dementia. Every effort should be made to enable someone to make their own informed decision. This may require information is explained in a different format. Easy read documents, pictorials and diagrams, as well as the use of advocates and other professionals, can support in this.  

If a person over the age of 18 has not got the capacity or ability to make their own choices they may have a Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) in place, this is a legal document with appoints another person to make decisions on your behalf. There are two types of Lasting Power of Attorney; one focuses on finances and estates the other on health and welfare. More information about LPA can be found on the government websites.

In an emergency situation such as when a person is in pain and they do not have the capacity to make a decision or have a nominated person to make that decision on their behalf then the best interest decision may need to be made. The dentist will use all the options available to them as well as consulting with the patient as best they can and other professionals involved in the patients care to make a treatment plan in the patients’ best interest. All decisions will be documented along with the options given and the reason for why that course of action was taken.