Caring for a special needs patient takes compassion and understanding. Everyday tasks, such as brushing teeth, can be very challenging. A patient with special needs can refer to a broad spectrum of disabilities, including physical, medical, developmental or cognitive conditions. Each type of special needs requires special consideration when receiving dental treatment. If you are a caregiver of someone with special needs, here are some ways to make dental care less difficult.
- Purchase Specialized Oral Hygiene Tools
- Perhaps the most challenging aspect of dental care with a special needs patient is the at-home oral hygiene routine. There are many toothbrushes and flossing tools designed to make caring for teeth easier for those with physical or mental disabilities. Your equipment may include an enlarged handle toothbrush, a counter-mounted electric toothbrush or even a handmade solution such as wrapped tape around a regular toothbrush handle. Flossing can also be made easier with a water flosser or flossing tool. In addition, your toothpaste may include prescription strength fluoride to further prevent enamel demineralization due to plaque buildup.
- Schedule More Frequent Dental Visits
- It is common for a special needs patient to require more frequent dental checkups. This may include dental visits every three-four months to ensure gum disease and tooth decay are monitored closely. Your dentist may also recommend sealants on permanent molars for added protection.
- Consider Sedation Dentistry
- Many special needs patients benefit from sedation dentistry during dental procedures, even for a routine cleaning. Sedation addresses concerns with sitting still, adjusting to the sights and sounds of the dental office, and the challenge of allowing the dentist to come close and work inside their mouth. There are many options in sedation dentistry, and your dentist can help you decide which is best.
Regardless of different needs, your smile still requires diligent attention. Although it may be more challenging to care for a special needs patient’s teeth, there are ways to help. It is most important to inform your dentist about a special needs condition so that they can offer the necessary accommodations to make your dental visit a positive experience.