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.
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