Taking care of kids’ smiles is a challenge in and of itself. But things get a whole lot trickier when you have much more serious health matters to address. It’s so tempting to let basic oral hygiene slip to the bottom of the list of priorities.
What should you know about dental care for your child with special needs?
Be Familiar With Your Child’s Unique Situation
Some chronic conditions come with a very specific set of symptoms affecting the smile such as dry mouth, cleft palate, extra or missing teeth, high cavity risk, teeth grinding, and more.
So while there are a lot of potential dental issues out there, it helps to narrow down your focus to things your child in particular is most apt to struggle with.
Start With The Basics
Be patient, celebrate small successes, and remember that it’s worth any effort to help your child get the best dental care they can handle in their situation!
Posted on behalf of:
Lakewood Dental Trails
10252 W Adams Ave
Temple, TX 76502
Going to the dentist should be a positive experience for everyone, regardless of whatever their individual needs may be. Special physical needs or conditions such as autism and asberger’s syndrome can present additional barriers to be overcome between the patient and experienced dental team. There are a few things parents can do for their child before the visit to the dentist to help improve the overall experience.
Let the dental team know how the child communicates best, and phrases or actions to use (or not use.) If your child is non-verbal, then talk to the office about taking pictures of their facility to laminate and make a flip book for your child to use at the time of the appointment. The pictures and words can familiarize the child with what will happen before they arrive, especially if you’ve gotten a step-by-step outline of the appointment from your office. For instance, first pictures of the teeth will be taken, and a photo of a child sitting in the x-ray chair would be appropriate.
Schedule appointments first thing in the morning, and eat a balanced breakfast that improves self-regulation. An early appointment usually means children are well-rested from the night before. Also, focusing on the appropriate foods that help your child self-regulate can keep them focused better. For some children, this means eating a higher-protein meal before their appointment. Just remember not to keep it very heavy, especially if laughing gas will be used.
Remember that you’re not in your dentist’s way. Parents understand their children’s special needs better than anyone else. You’re an important part of the dental team when it comes to getting the best oral health care for your child.
Posted on behalf of David Kurtzman
Regular oral hygiene practices like flossing can be hard enough for everyday dental patients, but just imagine what type of challenges a special needs patient can face. Even brushing can become a daily battle, depending on the physical limitations or needs that these patients face. Instead of trying to do things a set way just like everyone else, it’s important for each person to figure out what methods work best for their personal needs, and the needs of their caregivers.
It’s important to support and encourage the independence of each patient, no matter their age or capabilities. A patient without the ability to firmly grasp a small toothbrush handle may be able to function just fine if the end of the brush has a tennis ball or bicycle handle over it, enlarging the grip area. Electric toothbrushes further reduce the hand movements necessary for efficient plaque and food removal. Even a brush permanently mounted onto a hard surface area can allow a patient to move their mouth around it if arm movement is not possible.
A variety of flossing aids are available, and can be explored to find out which ones work best for a patient and their caregiver. Water flossers prevent the need for floss altogether, and use a steady stream of water to clean between the teeth and along the gumlines.
Because physical limitations can prevent 100% bacteria removal at all times, it is useful to utilize a topical fluoride once each day. An over the counter rinse used each night, or a prescription fluoride paste can help remineralize weakened tooth enamel and stop decay that is beginning to develop. See your dentist at least 2 or 3 times a year to monitor the health of teeth and existing restorations, catching needs as early as possible and preventing complications later on.
Posted on behalf of Dr. Michael Juban, Juban Dental Care
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.
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