In dentistry, when a young person approaches or reaches age 18, they usually transfer from a pediatric dentist to a general dentist who will continue to provide them with oral health care as adults in a new dental home. This process is called transition.

Transition Process Tool:

The CDA Dental Patient Special Health Care Needs Transition Process is a tool that aims to guide patients, families, caregivers and oral health care providers seamlessly through the process of transition when an adolescent with special health care needs (SHCN) moves from pediatric to adult oral health care, or when an adult with special health care needs moves from one dental practice to another.

Co-developed by the Canadian Dental Association and community-based pediatric dentists, general dentists and a parent, this tool is based on best practices for persons with SHCN and creates a consistent transition process for the Canadian oral health care environment.

The Transition Tool: What is it and why is the process important?

A Step-by-Step Process:

The tool consists of three steps and can be used for and adapted to any special health care needs (SHCN) patient group for assisting in transitioning individuals from oral health care environment to another.

Step 1: Transition Readiness Assessment
Step 2: Dental Summary and Care Plan
Step 3: Meet and Greet


For oral health care teams on both the departing and receiving ends of patient care, following a step-by-step transition process will facilitate an organized, coordinated and consistent clinical protocol for both transition preparation and patient transfer.

Patients and their families/caregivers will benefit from a more formalized transition process by:

  • being guided through the process;
  • being more aware of what to expect; and
  • knowing what type of information to share with the new oral health care provider.


CDA Dental Patient with Special Health Care Needs Transition Process

Watch and Learn:

The following videos are also contained in the downloadable transition tool and are marked with an asterisk (*) for quick reference. Watch these short videos to learn more about a range of topics and conditions referenced in the transition tool.

Other Resources