Good oral hygiene and dental care are important parts of an overall health care program for children and adults with cerebral palsy. These patients have the same susceptibility to oral and dental diseases as the general population, but they often do not get adequate dental care. The result is that their oral health and overall health suffers.
The lack of dental care can be due to a variety of factors including delaying dental care to deal with more pressing health care issues, but in many cases, cerebral palsy patients do not receive the same level of dental care because they can be challenging patients and many dental practices do not have the experience or the inclination to take the time necessary to meet the special needs of these patients.
Cerebral palsy patients may present a number of issues that make traditional dentistry difficult to perform. They often have poor motor control and unable to remain still during a dental procedure. Patients may also have severe gag reflex and difficulties swallowing. In addition, cerebral palsy patients may experience high levels of anxiety about dental care and have trouble tolerating teeth cleaning or minor dental procedures.
Fortunately, there are dental practices that specialize in caring for patients with developmental disabilities. They understand and are equipped to deal with special needs patients. In some cases, patients are able to receive the dental care they need in the dentist’s office using a combination of a caring, trained dental staff and mild sedatives.
In other case, dental care is safely performed in a specially equipped operating room while the patient is under general anesthesia. Sleep dentistry is a safe and humane way for special needs patients to get the dental care they need.
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