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What Oral Health Problems are Most Common Among Children with Special Needs?

August 4, 2020

Filed under: Uncategorized — washpark @ 4:10 pm
a mother and her daughter laughing and smiling while playing in the park

Does your child have special needs? Is it a challenge to keep their teeth clean at home? You’re not alone. Dentists who offer unique accommodations for children with mental, physical, and sensory needs often hear from parents how difficult it can be to keep their little one’s oral health in good condition. The Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends special needs dentistry for children with Down syndrome, cerebral palsy, neurological disorders, a cleft lip or palate, vision or hearing impairment, and learning and developmental disabilities.

On top of challenges at home, some children can feel overwhelmed or nervous at the dentist’s office. Unfortunately, poor oral hygiene and fear are not the only possible obstacles you might face as a parent. Children with special needs are at a higher risk for developing certain oral conditions. Here is a clear explanation of what kinds of problems you might expect to see in your child’s smile and why you should visit a pediatric practice that offers special needs dentistry.

What Oral Conditions Are Most Common in Children with Special Needs?

According to the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research, children born with common genetic disorders (e.g., Down syndrome) may experience delayed tooth eruption as well as abnormal or extra teeth. It is also possible for these children to have one or more teeth missing that never erupt during childhood and are not impacted.

There is also an increased risk for tooth decay and gum disease in children with genetic disorders as well as those with compromised immune systems. Not to mention many of the medications these children take put them at a greater risk for cavities, gingivitis, and periodontitis because of the sugar content and likeliness for dry mouth as a side effect.

It is also believed that children with cerebral palsy or a developmental or learning disability tend to grind their teeth, resulting in excessive wear and tear and the potential for chronic jaw pain.

Why Is Special Needs Dentistry Beneficial?

Finding a practice that offers special needs dentistry is one of the most beneficial steps you can take to improve your child’s oral health. Whether your child is sensitive to the sights and sounds of a dentist’s office or has physical or mental limitations, a pediatric dentist can provide the necessary accommodations to create a welcoming, positive, and stress-free experience. They are specially trained to create a sensory and/or mobility-friendly environment for those with these challenges.

Your child’s pediatric dentist will not only devote full attention, but they will work with you to formulate a personalized plan to help your little one achieve better oral health at home. From tips for brushing and flossing to ensuring they eat healthy and nutritious meals, you and your child’s pediatric dentist can work together to minimize the chances of cavities and gum disease.

If you are facing a multitude of obstacles when it comes to your child’s oral health, don’t try to handle it on your own. Seek the help of a professional pediatric dentist who can provide the resources you and your child need.

About the Author
Dr. J. Patrick Bowman and his team of experts at Wash Park Pediatric Dentistry believe all children deserve the best possible dental care. If your child has special needs, you can expect Dr. Bowman to go above and beyond to provide the necessary accommodations you and your little one need to ensure a healthier smile and successful appointment. Contact us at (720) 647-6310 or visit our website to inform us of your child’s needs so that we can guarantee a stress-free experience.

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