Objective: Our knowledge of how people with disabilities look upon oral health and dental care is limited. The aim of this study was thus to explore how the people with disabilities experience the encounter with dental health care.
Material and methods: With a focus on dental care and oral health, qualitative interviews with 16 informants with cognitive and/or physical disabilities were analysed in accordance with the qualitative method of grounded theory.
Results: A core category identified and labeled "giving low priority to oral health care" was found to be related to four other categories: "being afraid of losing control", "having difficulties complying with instructions", "having a desire for continuity", and "wishing to be just like everyone else". The results show that oral health and dental care are important, but are not considered a priority by the people with disabilities. General health issues have much higher priority but do not include oral health, which consequently can affect oral health negatively.
Conclusions: Of several factors identified that could be improved to make dental visits more pleasant for patients are enhancing a sense of control in the patient and improving continuity.