Having special needs can place a person at an increased susceptibility to develop oral health conditions such as gum disease, tartar buildup, and tooth decay. That’s why it’s extremely important to have a great preventive care plan in place! Prevention in both the home as well as the dental office can ward off oral diseases, or catch them in the earliest stages.
At home, it’s essential to find a way to practice effective oral hygiene in a way that is easily accessible to the patient. Some patients require alteration of equipment, such as an enlarged handle on their toothbrush, or even a counter-mounted electric toothbrush. Rinsing with fluoride mouthwash or brushing with a prescription strength fluoride can prevent enamel demineralization from occurring due to plaque buildup.
Most people benefit from preventive visits at their dental office twice each year. If needed, these visits can also be performed as frequently as every 3 or 4 months to benefit the health of the patient. During these visits, a prophylactic cleaning will remove any calcified bacteria deposits, a fluoride treatment will be applied, and an examination will screen for any decay. Placing sealants over the permanent molars can also ward off potential tooth decay and make it easier to keep these teeth clean. One-on-one oral hygiene counseling with the hygienist or dentist is useful to help pinpoint specific areas of need, and alternative methods to accomplish home hygiene.
Special needs patients such as those with developmental disabilities who cannot tolerate traditional dental care can receive top quality dental care from a dentist who specializes in sedation dentistry. Sedation or sleep sedation dentistry offers a comfortable, humane dental care option for special needs patients.
Maintaining a healthy mouth will boost the immune system as well as reduce inflammation throughout the body. Your special needs loved one deserves a special approach to dentistry that is customized for their individual needs.
Posted on behalf of David Kurtzman
Going to the dentist is often characterized as the least enjoyable “check up” by people of all ages. Many adults find that they dread going to the dentist and often put off or cancel their regularly scheduled appointments. The noises of scraping the teeth, having someone else’s hands in their mouths, and having to lay back for a thorough dental teeth cleaning causes many adults to have a fear of the dentist. Now, imagine this fear – again, common in adults – to a child. And then imagine this fear to a child who has special needs or developmental disabilities.
Many children with special needs cannot be talked into having their teeth cleaned. Parents typically try to encourage their children and put goals in front of them (e.g. ice cream, a toy, etc.) to help children make it through their visit to the dentist. This does not always work for children with special needs, and dentists often have a difficult time cleaning their teeth. But dental care is almost more important for children with special needs than it is for children without special needs. Children with Down’s syndrome and seizure disorders are very susceptible to periodontal disease and gingival hyperplasia. Both of these dental conditions are severe enough to lead to health problems outside of the mouth and should not be left untreated.
The key is finding a dentist that your child with special needs feels comfortable enough around to allow her/him to examine the mouth and clean the teeth. Often, this takes repeated, frequent visits in order to build up the trust between the child and the dentist. While it may be more difficult and may take more time to find a dental practice that your child with special needs will willingly visit, it is worth the effort. Oral health promotes general health, and children with special needs often require specialized intervention to keep their mouths healthy.
Posted on behalf of David Kurtzman
There isn’t a single way to care for a patient. Just as every dental patient has different priorities, treatment needs, and personalities that encompass the method of care they seek from their dentist, so do the needs of those dental patients that have special physical or behavioral needs or developmental disabilities. These needs affect their considerations that revolve around scheduling, methods of care, length of appointments, and how often to even see the dentist.
Your dentist can best provide quality care to their special needs patients when the primary caregiver communicates what types of approaches work best. Parents and caregivers know their loved ones better than anyone else, and by providing a listening and attentive ear, these methods help your dentist provide a higher quality of care when it comes to oral health.
No approach is too small. Some patients have different triggers or techniques that help encourage or avoid a certain behavior, and can create a more positive experience when it comes to their dental care. A caregiver should never feel like they’re being too pushy when it comes to letting your dental team know what will work best, or help get the results that they need to provide the care that is necessary. You as a caregiver are an integral part of your loved one’s dental team, and your dentist understands this.
Special considerations should always be given to patients that have a special need and require appropriate accommodations. If you ever feel these needs aren’t being met, it’s time to speak up! You’re used to being an advocate, but just because you’re not a dentist doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have input about their care. A dedicated dental team that aims to serve quality dental care to all of their patients respects and depends on you to know what’s best for the person you love.
Posted on behalf of David Kurtzman
Maybe you’ve thought about asking your dentist about sedation but just weren’t sure or were too embarrassed to ask. Have no fear! Dentists get asked all types of questions every day, and asking about sedation services is nothing to be ashamed of. Sedation dentistry help patients relax and get the dental treatment that they need, and everyone has a different reason for choosing the sedation dentistry.
Some of the most common reasons that people ask for sedation during their dental procedure include:
• Sensitive gag reflex
• Anxiety or fear related to dental care
• Dental patients with special needs such as a developmental disability
• Inability to open the mouth for a long period of time
• The desire to complete all of their treatment in one visit
If any of these reasons sound familiar, then you may make a great candidate for sedation dentistry. Patients that are sedated during their appointment are relaxed and in a light sleep. The sleep is deep enough to be unaware of the sights and sounds of the treatment room, but is light enough where you can respond to verbal prompts. You won’t remember anything at all about your appointment! To ensure your safety, you will be asked to have a friend escort you to and from the appointment, and highly trained staff will closely monitor you during your entire visit. Depending on the type of sedation your dentist uses, some types wear off immediately after your appointment is over, while others take a few hours to completely work their way out of your system.
Ask your dentist about sedation options today! Get the dental treatment you need and the smile you really deserve, while enjoying the most relaxing visit that’s possible.
Posted on behalf of David Kurtzman
Every patient is special, which is why every patient deserves the very best dental care. Whether you’re young or old, have physical or developmental disabilities, a well-rounded dental team that is dedicated to providing attentive, personalized care will tailor their treatment routines to meet the needs of their patients.
Flexibility for special needs patients is important. Treatment times may require alternative resources or additional time. Not all dental care providers are equipped to offer these services. Selecting a dentist that provides special needs services is important when your loved one requires an extra special touch when it comes to ensuring their well being.
Patient, friendly dental staff who work with a high volume of special needs patients are the best way to ensure that your loved one will receive the best care possible. Whether it’s breaking up treatments into multiple, short visits, or utilizing sedation services in order to complete all of the necessary care in a single appointment, your special needs dentist understands that you know what’s best for your loved one. Treatment needs are prioritized based on severity, patient needs and the input of the caregiver. As a team, you and the dentist will formulate a care plan that exceeds the needs of the patient. Each patient is involved as much as possible in his or her own care plan.
Routine preventive care is the best way to prevent severe dental decay or infection later on down the road. Scheduling appointments first thing in the morning when the patient is well rested can make the visit easier. By seeing your dentist on a regular basis, dental needs of your special patient can be kept to a minimum.
If you are a parent of a special needs child, you know that certain things become more difficult, or require special planning before happening. Going to the dentist may be one of those things. This article will discuss dental care for the special needs population.
There are countless reasons why a child may need special consideration before going to the dentist. The child may be autistic, have a spinal cord injury, may have developmental disabilities, Down’s syndrome, or be blind or hard of hearing. You, as the parent, know how your child best responds to new and different environments.
If you have a special needs child, phone the dental office before the appointment, and ask to set up a consultation appointment to speak with the dentist. You may also want to see if the hygienist may also attend. During this appointment, share the needs of your child with the dentist, and see if he or she is able to accommodate your child appropriately. If they cannot, there are many dentists who specialize in providing dental care for the individual with special needs, and the dentist will likely make a referral for you.
If possible, prior to any dental care being performed, have your child ‘visit’ the dental office. Show him or her a dental chair, and let them sit in the chair, and lean back as they would when their teeth are being cleaned or a procedure being performed. Introduce them to the staff, and show him or her some of the instruments. If your child is noise sensitive, ask if the instruments could be turned on so they will know what the noise is prior to the appointment time. This pre-visit will help acclimate the child as much as possible.
On the day of the appointment, if possible, prepare your child and let them know where they are going and what is going to happen. Every child is different and you may or may not be able to do this. If your child is having a particularly ‘bad’ day, call and reschedule the appointment. Rescheduling the appointment is much better than having a bad experience.
Working with your dentist, you, your child and the dental team can all have a positive experience. If you have questions about accommodating your child, talk to your dentist today.
Posted on behalf of Dr. David Kurtzman
All patients are special to their dentist, but patients with special needs require additional care and understanding when it comes to providing high quality dental care. Special needs dental patients include patients with developmental disabilities that makes providing dental care in a tradtional setting uncomfortable or dangerous to the health of the patient.
Because every patient has different needs, the dentist and staff will work closely with the caregiver of the patient to find out what works best to make that patient comfortable. Special needs patients are empowered by their dentist because their care plan and preventive routines will be tailored in a way that helps them as much as possible to be involved in their own care.
Various forms of sedation can be used to help special need dental patients undergo their dental procedures. This can range from just using nitrous oxide (laughing gas) to sleep sedation treatments. Sleep sedation can be performed using orally administered medication of through intravenous delivery. The level of sedation chosen will be based on the patient’s needs and past experiences with dental care.
Sleep sedation can allow dental patients to have all of their treatment needs completed in a single visit, instead of multiple appointments to the dental office. Another benefit of in-office sedation is that it allows special need patients to have all of their treatment completed inside of their normal dental office without having to travel to a hospital or surgical facility for the therapy.
Appointments are scheduled to fit around each patient’s schedule. Some patients are happier or more relaxed at different times of the day, so scheduling care during these times helps address the patient’s personal needs as well as their overall treatment experience.
Your dentist will work very closely with you to address all of your needs and concerns with every patient that comes into to their office, no matter how special their needs are.
In the field of dentistry, a special needs patient is a person with a physical, medical, intellectual, or developmental diabilities that affects their ability to maintain good oral health or receive standard dental treatment. Some examples include people with Down’s syndrome, AHDH, Alzheimer’s disease, autism, arthritis, or paralyzed people. These individuals have a higher risk of developing oral pathologies (in some cases life-threatening) than the able population, and also have a high need for preventative dental treatment from an early age. Fortunately, alternative dental services have been developed to effectively treat individuals with special needs.
In special needs dentistry, certain accommodations are provided to make visiting the dentist easier for the patient. Dental practices offering special needs dentistry are equipped with disability-friendly amenities such as: disabled parking privileges; wheelchair ramps; specialized reclining wheelchairs; walkers; and special dental chairs.
Some special needs patients, such as those with autism or ADHD, may have strong, negative reactions to the restrictiveness of the dental chair or to dental tools. A special needs patient who finds it hard to sit still, or who is crying or screaming, is very difficult to treat, and the risk of injury to the patient is also increased. Thus, while special needs dentistry seeks to make dental treatment safer and more comfortable for the patient, another goal is to make it easier for the dentist to do his or her job. In this sense, another aspect of special needs dentistry is providing solutions like sedation, papoose boards, and noise reduction headphones to relax or restrain the patient.
A critical component of special needs dentistry is the level of skill and comfort that the dental care staff has when it comes to dealing with special needs people. While many dental professions are trained in things such as proper ergonomic techniques when lifting a patient, there is much to be said for a dentist’s chair-side manner when dealing with a special needs person. Patience and compassion are crucial aspects of successful special needs dentistry and should always be taken into consideration when seeking dental care for a special needs person.
Maintaining oral health with good dental care is very important for patients with Down’s syndrome. Children with Down’s syndrome usually have serious dental development issues including malformed, missing, and misaligned teeth. In addition, individuals with Down’s syndrome have a very high rate of gingivitis and periodontal disease and need frequent deep cleanings to keep periodontal disease from progressing and causing tooth loss.
Most Down’s syndrome patients also have serious bite problems that require orthodontic correction. Complicating the dental care needs of the Down’s syndrome patient is the low manual dexterity and intellectual impairment present and the low tolerance of oral care by caregivers. The result is a generally poor level of home oral care.
At the same time that Down’s syndrome patients are in need of professional dental care, most patients have a very low tolerance for dental care in a traditional dental office. Compounding this problem is that most dental offices lack the experience and the patience necessary for handling Down’s syndrome dental patients. Some patients can learn to tolerate short periods of time in a dentist’s chair, but even these patients cannot tolerate the often extensive and invasive dental procedures that Down’s syndrome patients require.
Sleep and sedation dentistry is an excellent alternative for providing much needed dental care to Down’s syndrome patients an other dental patients with developmental disabilities in a safe and humane manner. Dentists who specialize in sleep and sedation dentistry have additional training in performing dentistry on patients who are much more sedated than in traditional dentistry. These dentists use advanced sedation techniques including deep conscious sedation and full unconscious sedation.
Depending on the procedures to be performed and the needs of the patient, the sleep and sedation dentist will determine the appropriate sedation level. Some procedures can be performed in the dentist’s office while others may be done in a specially equipped surgical suite or hospital operating room. Sleep and sedation dentistry allows special needs patients to get the dental care they need safely, painlessly, and free of anxiety.
Most people associate general anesthesia with a surgical procedure, but for some dental patients, dental care under general anesthesia is the only safe, comfortable way to get the dental care they need. While many dentists offer milder forms of sedation such as nitrous oxide (laughing gas) and mild oral sedatives, only a few highly trained dental specialists offer dental care under general anesthesia (also called hospital sleep sedation dentistry).
These specially trained dentists provide a complete range of dental care – everything from dental cleanings and check-ups to fillings, root canals, caps, veneers, bridges, and other dental procedures. While dental care under general anesthesia may seem a little “over the top”, the reality is that hospital sleep dentistry provides much needed dental care for patients cannot get the care they need in any other way.
For example, many patients with a developmental disability cannot tolerate dental care in a traditional setting, even with the strongest conscious sedatives. These patients often forgo dental care which seriously compromises their oral health as well as their overall health. Hospital sleep dentistry provides a means for these patients to receive safe, comfortable dental care that helps maintain their oral health and improves their quality of life.
Other patients suffer from uncontrollable dental phobia that is so severe that hospital sleep dentistry is the only way they can receive dental care. Other candidates for hospital sleep dentistry include patients who are allergic to novocaine or who cannot get numb with novocaine or other analgesics. Some patients have medical conditions that make it uncomfortable or even impossible to tolerate dental care in a traditional dental setting.
For all of these patients and more, hospital sleep dentistry offers a solution – safe, anxiety free, comfortable dental care in a hospital operating room under full anesthesia.
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