The on-going obesity problem in the UK has forced dentists to adapt to their patients’ needs by investing in supersize chairs to support weights of up to 71 stone; at £25,000, the new chairs are four times the price of a standard dentist’s chair.
Tam Fry, of the National Obesity Forum, commented that this development was not surprising, given the changes in wider seats on planes, bigger wheelchairs, hospital beds, and operating tables. Tam added that ‘the obesity problem is going to go on for at least another generation so these chairs are going to be necessary.’
A spokesperson for the British Dental Association said that this issue was certainly likely to affect general dental practice in ‘the near future’, saying that ‘the speed of the obesity epidemic has been greater than the recognition of the impending crisis by healthcare services. The cost implications for such re-equipping alone will have a very serious impact on resources.’ One dental surgery in West Swindon District Centre has had to put up a sign warning patients that the dentist’s chairs cannot hold anyone who weighs more than 35 stone.
Over the past two years, 60 Barico wide recliners have been sold and demand is on the increase; the UK supplier, Bariatric Ltd, said that ‘The Barico has a safe working load of 71 stone. Dental chairs at the moment have a safe working load of around 22 stone to 25 stone but they don’t really work at those weights once a patient is sat back.’