Lift for dental patients in wheelchairs comes to Alberta

The Edmonton dental office believes it has the only lift in Alberta that eliminates the need to manually transfer wheelchair patients to traditional dental chairs.

Quadriplegic patient Ashley Johnston described the device as a game changer.

“Some places require two people to transfer, so it’s just a different world here,” she said in a recent interview with CTV News Edmonton.

Dr. Nibras Sharif, who describes himself as passionate about providing accessible care, when he finally opened his own clinic many years ago, Wheelchair-adaptive dental chair manufactured by British company Diaco.

A “chair” is basically a platform on which a wheelchair user can roll and recline. This allows the dentist to position the patient in the wheelchair at an angle and height similar to a patient sitting in a chair.

Dr. Nibras Sharif, Unity Square Dental, helps patient Ashley Johnston into a wheelchair-accessible dental chair made by British company Diaco, February 24, 2023.

Importantly, Diaco’s products allow patients to remain in their wheelchairs. Not only is this considered more comfortable, but it is also considered easier and less risky than dental staff transporting patients on a hoist.

“I have worked in a place with an elevator, and it is very difficult for my family and the people who bring it in. It is also difficult for people because it takes about 20 minutes to move, and it is dangerous. They may fall, they may get hurt,” Sharif said. “But they also feel more dignified when they’re sitting in their own chair, in their own space.”

In her experience, the uncomfortable lifting process deters some patients from seeking dental care until they begin to feel pain.

Johnston was referred to Sharif in February due to pain. Because after Sharif bought his 2022 unity square his dental, the dentist finally got his own Diaco chair.

Ashley Johnston in a wheelchair on a Diaco wheelchair accessible dental lift at the Unity Square Dental Clinic in Edmonton on February 24, 2023.

Johnston told CTV News Edmonton that he was shocked to learn the device existed.

“Honestly, I had no idea something like this existed,” she recalled.

“I honestly didn’t know what to expect at that point. When I got in and it lifted me up, I was super excited about it.”

“I feel really fulfilled. There is something worth coming here to do,” Sharif added.

As far as she knows, there are only three Diaco chairs in Canada. She doesn’t want to be Alberta’s only dentist for long.

“We are going to space,” she said. “We should have this technology.”

Using files from Matt Marshall of CTV News Edmonton

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