Dental Tips Blog

May
5

Oral Hygiene Challenges with Young or Special Needs Children

Some of our most special needs dental patients may have difficulty being able to practice routine oral hygiene on their own, or have a hard time cooperating when a caregiver attempts to help them. No matter if the child’s needs are physical, psychological or developmental, all parents want to make sure that they are doing everything possible to promote a healthy oral environment that is free from decay and disease.

Make it part of your routine.

Consistency and knowing what to expect each day can help children with transitions. Knowing that oral care is going to happen at a certain time every day can help your child prepare for it. Oral care is not an option, even though some caregivers would rather avoid it due to a poor reaction by the child. Over time most children become comfortable with oral care, but it may take weeks or even months.

Get the child involved.

As long as you are cleansing the child’s teeth once per day, you may want to let your child be in charge of the 2nd time. For instance, you can brush their teeth before bed, and they can do it in the morning after breakfast. Sometimes allowing a child to feel like they have control over an aspect of something can encourage more involvement. If your child refuses to do it alone, then help them do it.

Make it physically possible.

If keeping the mouth open is not easily achievable, consider using medical tape over several stacked tongue depressors to create a comfortable prop for the child to bite down on while giving you access to the other side of their mouth. If dexterity is a problem, consider putting a tennis ball or bicycle handle over the end of a toothbrush to make it easier for your child to hold. Encourage them to brush back and forth as best as possible, following up where needed.

Posted on behalf of Dr. David Kurtzman

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