Chapter 1 described various populations that might benefit from the use of portable dental equipment as well as general advantages and limitations of portable equipment systems.
As you evaluate the type of equipment to purchase and which features to include, it is important to consider the range of patient populations to be treated and the system of care you wish to create. The multitude of military and missionary/humanitarian volunteer programs that use portable equipment in developing countries or disaster situations are beyond the scope of this chapter. Geriatric patient populations typically present with the most substantial and complex dental problems. When treating medically compromised patients, additional monitoring, resuscitation, and other emergency medical equipment may be necessary. Providing preventive services to children in a school setting is much less complex, although requires significant administrative effort.
Adaptations will also be needed for each treatment setting and situation, e.g., a patient's home, bedridden individual, person in a large electric wheelchair, young distractible child. For example, within a person's home, the use of extension cords and electrical adaptors (three to two prong) may be needed. Rearranging furniture or other items to gain enough room to set up equipment might be required. Bedridden patients might require a bracket table that slides under the bed to allow closer positioning of instruments and supplies, relying more on headlamps for illumination, and having an extended tubing length for handpieces and suction. These situations also influence scheduling and staffing considerations.
Portable systems are generally characterized as being smaller and more compartmentalized than mobile vehicle systems. Ease of transportability, time efficiencies, and relative lower equipment and overhead costs may represent substantial advantages when considering a portable system over a mobile van. Portable equipment provides flexibility to assemble varying configurations to provide a separate mix of services such as: