Dental expert and Unforgettable panel member Prof Raman Bedi explains what prompted him to invent the Bedi Shield.
I still recall the day. A daughter was fighting back the tears, sitting next to her mother in the dental hospital in Birmingham. Her mother’s teeth could not be cleaned properly and food was stuck between the teeth; her bad breath was affecting the people around her and everyone knew it.
I was the newly appointed NHS Dental Consultant and had been put in charge of the largest dental special care unit in the West Midlands. I felt as if any advice seemed superficial. The daughter, an articulate and caring middle-aged woman, had tried everything to gain access to her mother’s mouth in order to help her, even prising the mouth open with kitchen cutlery.
“I have tried everything but I cannot help clean her mouth. The other carers will clean every part of my mother’s body but will not put their fingers in her mouth to clean the teeth,” she said with a frustration that almost bordered on despair.
This moment stayed with me and it became apparent as the daughter explained her situation that she faced a real dilemma. Many of the patients I saw in the special care unit could not provide adequate oral care for themselves and worse than this, their carers could not easily access the mouth to provide effective oral care either.
This was the trigger for my invention of the Bedi Shield, a simple finger support which allows both head control and the individual’s mouth to be comfortably supported during dental examination, tooth cleaning, medication taking and provides quick access to the mouth to remove any food debris making the individual uncomfortable or choking them.
The prototypes were created in the early 1990’s alongside the accompanying patents. A simple plastic version of the shield concept was sold worldwide over the next two decades. The original shield however had several limitations and is not very comfortable for people with dementia.
In 2013 a Scottish based company acquired the rights for the Bedi Shield and I became its chairman. The design was improved and a finger support collar added to allow the user to have better control. A rubber rather than plastic exterior gives the individual a more comfortable experience when they bite and the size was adjusted to be optimal for the individual’s mouth.
The new Bedi Shield was launched in 2015, with the aim to protect a smile for a lifetime.
My hope is that the shield provides carers with the comfort and security to effectively provide oral care for the people that need it. The shield is just the beginning for an oral care range for people with dementia and I believe this will dramatically change people’s quality of life.
Watch a video about the Bedi Shield below. You can buy it in our shop.