Special Needs Dental Care

special needs dental care
Elder dental care on their home or at a care facility

At Dental Care in Motion, we are committed to providing dental care to everyone, including all clients who may have physical or emotional challenges that might prevent them from receiving care in a traditional dental office

Dental Care for Clients with Autism

Autistic clients are known to have less tooth decay. However, they can be at higher risk for other dental-related issues. They include:

  • Bruxism, where they grind, gnash or clench their teeth
  • Erosion
  • Tongue thrusting
  • Xerostomia, which is dry mouth
  • And, non-nutritive chewing. 

There are a variety of factors that place ASD clients at higher dental risks, such as behavioral difficulties with dental hygiene home care, intake of higher fermentable carbohydrates and sugars.  The dental issue would vary depending on the level of manifestations of their symptoms.

There are many ways to manage the success of appointments by employing special accommodations.  So make requests of your dental providers, like us, and if you are not sure, here are some suggestions:

  1. Ensure everyone involved is aware of the client’s needs prior to appointment.
  2. If they are sensitive to noises or bright light, ensure the appointment time works best to have limited or no background noise. Ensure lights can be dimmed.
  3. Choose the best environment for the client’s appointment. We can provide service in any room of the house, usually, the living room is ideal. For example, Dental Care in Motion provides in-home service or in our fully equipment high-roof mobile van in your driveway.
  4. Maintain consistent dental staff. Familiarity with the treatment provider is key.
  5. Tell-show-do, advance preparation, and pre-practicing. This helps a client to know what to expect during the appointment. Your hygienist can assist with recommendations if needed.
  6. Desensitization techniques are helpful. Discuss techniques with the dental staff prior to the appointment.
  7. Desensitization during appointments may be necessary. It might look like today we just walk into the mobile vehicle and sit in the chair for 5 seconds, and next time 30 seconds, 1 minute, 5 minutes, 10 minutes. Then encourage them to open their mouth and count teeth, then brush teeth. Distraction may be required during each step and we always provide a reward for each successful step completed
  8. Voice control, calm, soothing, consistent tone, and positive as a matter of fact attitude to reduce upset.
  9. Breakdown all instructions into very basic specific steps and teach separately. For example, pick up a toothbrush, get toothpaste, squeeze toothpaste onto toothbrush, wet toothpaste, and toothbrush, start brushing, etc.
  10. Collaborate with your dental health care provider for home-based preparation. For example, reading a story
  11. Always praise and smile, positive verbal reinforcement is so important.
  12. Distraction techniques are so often very helpful, watching a favorite movie, listening to music, weighted blanket, holding onto favorite items, fidget toys. Inform your dental health care provider if you have any other suggestions. Work together and develop a plan.
  13. Some clients with ASD are more cooperative with the caregiver/parent at the chairside. Some are better when they are not in the room. Discuss this prior to the appointment. Sometimes and not intentionally, our own experiences and body language could impede the success of the appointment.
  14. Reduce as much as possible and sensory stimuli. Possibly use headphones when noise cannot be reduced, or a weighted blanket, remember to always remain calm.
  15. Use social stories prior to appointment.
  16. Showing them pictures may assist to reduce anxiety prior to appointment.
  17. Ask the dental health care provider for options, ask questions, maybe several appointments, possible referral for sedation if needed.
  18. Have fun, celebrate all the successes. It can be so much fun working with ASD

Dental Care for Clients with Down’s Syndrome

We highly recommend that the caregiver(s) have the opportunity to review and discuss all aspects of medical history prior to first visit. Including triggers, sensitivities, communication tools either verbal or nonverbal, goals, best phrases or words that best work, any specific challenges, sounds that may affect the client. Tell the hygienist if there is a preference for quiet, lighting, positioning in the dental chair. Are there oral sensitivities such as gagging and taste issues? Does the environment need to be clutter-free. Provide the dental provider with as much information as possible prior to the initial appointment. This will assist in helping us deliver a successful experience.

Dental Care for Clients in Wheelchairs or with Mobility Challenges

Special health care individuals have a higher risk for oral diseases. Their needs are unique and have an impact oral health risks and some clients have compromised immunity or possible heart conditions associated with endocarditis (bacteria found in tooth plaque may multiply, increased risk of clients with underlying heart problems.)

Oral health is sometimes compromised due to conditions that are manifested intraorally. There are higher risks for conditions such as cleft lip/palate, oral cancer, amelogenesis imperfecta (unusually small teeth, pitted or grooved and rapid wear and breakage), dentinogenesis imperfecta (a genetic disorder of tooth development). Regular dental visits are beneficial for everyone.  It allows the dental professional to educate healthcare providers, parents, organizations on how to manage the client’s individual needs and to provide specific treatment and recommendations for the client’s individual needs and oral conditions.

Have Questions About Special Needs Dental Care?

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