DENTAL CARE FOR SPECIAL NEEDS CHILDREN

Overview:

Special needs children are children that require assistance for disabilities that may be medical, mental or psychological. Like everyone else, special needs children require dental care even more because they are further prone to oral diseases like tooth decay, gum disease etc.

However, special needs children require unique dental care to impede rampant caries, therefore thorough cleaning of the mouth after feeding, use of mouthwash and regular dental checks are essential.

Medical diagnosis

The following are medical ailments that make an individual or a child require special dental care. They are;

Home dental care

The caregiver for a special needs child has to go the extra mile in helping them have a daily dental routine like cleaning the mouth.

Moreover, to get maximum cooperation from a special need child you have to be gentle, kind, and patient, and explain every action or procedure. The daily dental routine should be done by someone familiar to the child to avoid or reduce anxiety. The daily dental home routine to be done by the caregiver are;

  • Toothbrushing with a medium or soft toothbrush (done by the caregiver )
  • Use fluoride-containing toothpaste all the time with the paste embedded within the bristles of the toothbrush.
  • Wash the mouth after every meal with water.
  • The teeth should be flossed daily if possible.
  • Use an electric-powered toothbrush if possible.
  • Use mouthwash at least 3 times a week.

Diet

Food and eating habits are highly implicated in oral diseases like tooth decay and periodontal disease hence their consideration in the dental care of special needs children is fundamental in achieving good results in maintaining their oral health.

Therefore, the sugar in their food should be lessened, feed them from a bowl or plate rather than from a feeding bottle and resist late-night feeding but if necessary, give food without sugar( at night). Their diet should also contain carrots, cucumbers, green vegetables and fruit.

Furthermore, the environment of special needs children must be kept very clean and neat to circumvent systematic infections because infection treatment affects the teeth due to high levels of sugar in the medications(syrups)

Specialized dental care

Special needs children do not cooperate very well with strangers. Hence to prevent fear and anxiety, the following is important;

  • The first visit to the dentist should be for a painless procedure like scaling and polishing or topical fluoride application.
  • The dentist should be friendly, compassionate, tolerant and professional.
  • If possible use the same dentist.
  • The appointment and treatment duration should be short and interactive.
  • The technique of tell-show-do should be employed.
  • Scaling and polishing should be done regularly( every 4 months).
  • Topical fluoride should be applied at every appointment.
  • Establish trust by not lying to them about what to expect.

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