Dental Tips Blog


Dental Care for Patients with Autism

As if finding the best dentist for your child with Autism wasn’t hard enough, then there’s the task of planning the smoothest visit possible. Autism or Asberger syndrome dental care can be a challenge, but fortunately there are dental practices that specialize in providing high quality, humane dental care for special needs patients including patients with Asberger syndrome and autism spectrum disorders. Thankfully, dentists that have experience with treating patients with autism have the tools of the trade to create a positive experience for your family.

Let your dental office know how your child communicates best. They will make a note of this in his or her chart, as well as any pointers you have. Most offices have a “morning huddle” before they start the day to review special needs as this, giving team members a heads up on what extra accommodations need to be made for individual patients. If your child communicates best by using pictures or with a certain team member, this will help keep your visit as routine as possible. Take some pictures of the office and team ahead of time, so that you can laminate them and show them to your child as you prepare for and arrive at your appointment.

What makes your child the most comfortable? Your dentist may be able to provide a weighted blanket and noise-canceling headphones, or you can bring some items of your own. Bringing a pair of favorite sunglasses can also avoid bright light in the eyes while the dentist is examining the teeth.

Home oral hygiene is the biggest part of ensuring your child has the least amount of dental treatment over the course of their life. Encourage your child to have self-care, but follow up at least once a day with helping them brush. Your dentist can also prescribe a home fluoride gel that can help prevent cavities.

Posted on behalf of David Kurtzman



The Caregivers Role in Dental Care of Special Needs Patients

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



Sedation Dentistry for the Special Needs Patient

Special needs patients require special dental care providers. Because routine dental procedures like cleanings and x-rays can be exhausting to the patient and their caregiver, sedation dentistry allows the patient to be able to relax and have all of their treatment completed during one appointment. Sedation appointments also help dental providers to be more efficient in the care that they provide, as these appointments allow each patient to be extremely cooperative for the entire length of their procedure.

Sedation is achieved either by an oral medication taken before the appointment, or through intravenous delivery of medication. For cases where a deeper stage of sedation is needed, intravenous is the method of choice.

In the past it was difficult for caregivers to find and schedule sedation dentistry appointments for special needs patients such as patients with developmental disabilities, dental anxiety, or an uncontrollable severe gag reflex.  Dentists who specialize in sleep and sedation dentistry offer sedation services on a routine basis for not only patients with special needs, but also every patient that requests sedation services.

Because the patient is sedated into a level of sleep, very large treatment cases can be treated all at once. These appointments may last for up to a few hours in order to complete all of the care, but the patient will never notice. They will wake up rested and comfortable, as local anesthetic is still used to numb the area where treatment took place.

If you have been trying to find a dental care provider for the special needs patient in your life, look for a dentist that specializes in sleep and sedation dentistry.


Dental Care for the Patient With Cerebral Palsy

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.


Huntington’s Disease and Dental Care

Huntington’s disease is an inherited disorder that typically strikes when the patient is in their 40’s or 50’s.  It causes nerve cells in the brain to degenerate, resulting in movement disorders such as involuntary jerking, muscle contractions, and difficulty swallowing.  Patients also often lack the ability to control their impulses and may suffer from mania, anxiety, and obsessive-compulsive behavior.

Good dental care is important for individuals with Huntington’s disease.  Due to the difficulty in swallowing, patients have a difficult time eating enough and often turn to a diet high in sugar to get the calories they need.  At the same time, they often lack the physical dexterity to brush their teeth properly.  The combination of a high sugar diet and poor brushing habits results in poor oral health and a higher than normal rate of developing cavities.

Regular routine dental care including frequent cleanings can help, but normal dental practices can be dangerous for Huntington’s disease patients because of their inability o control their movements.  If you are a caregiver for a person with Huntington’s disease, talk to your dentist about increased focus on the prevention of tooth decay in the patient.  More frequent cleanings and the application of fluoride can help slow tooth decay.

In addition, look for a dentist that specializes in sleep and sedation dentistry.  Only a few dentists have the training and experience needed for this specialty practice area, but sleep and sedation dentistry is a humane way for Huntington’s disease patients to get high quality dental care safely, comfortably, and without pain or anxiety.

The dentist will recommend a level of sedation appropriate for the individual patient and the dental procedures needed.  The sedation can range from moderate conscious sedation to full general anesthesia.  Sleep and sedation dentistry has helped millions of special needs patients get the dental care they need.

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