More and more research suggests that oral health affects a person’s overall health. While the majority of people are able to care for their teeth, there are many people who do not have the mental or physical capability to do so. Within this group, there are increasing numbers of cavities, gum disease, and missing teeth. Reasons for poor oral health among adults with physical and mental disabilities vary, but with good dental care these individuals can achieve optimal health.
A gap in communication is often associated with special needs dentistry. While a dentist may tell a patient, “You need to brush your teeth and floss every day,” their special needs patient may not fully understand what is being said.
There is also the physical demand of oral health that needs to be taken into consideration. Flossing is hard work. One’s fingers must be dexterous to thread floss around fingers and between teeth, and often time people with disabilities lack the dexterity to do so. Also, brushing one’s teeth requires standing to see in a mirror, spit into a sink, and rinse the mouth. Many people take for granted how the seemingly simple activity such as standing is challenging to others.
Routine dental cleanings are essential to oral health. Special needs patients such as dental patients with physical and developmental disabilities may find their dental appointments difficult or frightening. There are dentists who specialize in special needs dentistry and who work hard to provide a gentle experience. Sedation is common among those who have disabilities because it takes away anxiety during the dental procedure and the dentist is able to do a thorough cleaning and evaluation. With offices that provide special needs, the atmosphere is calm and keeps the needs of their patients in mind.
If you or your loved one is a candidate for special needs dentistry, don’t wait. With the link between oral health and general health fully supported, a healthy mouth will lead to optimal health for your whole body.
Posted on behalf of David Kurtzman
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