Good oral health is important for everyone, including people with special needs. Unfortunately, patients suffering from conditions such as dementia, autism, Down syndrome, paralysis, or any number of other special needs do not receive appropriate dental care because of the unique challenges presented by their health conditions. A great dentist or oral surgeon can brainstorm with these patients or their caregivers to come up with solutions that let those with special needs maintain the good health of their teeth and gums.
Special Dental Care for Special Needs
High-quality treatment for a patient with special needs requires patience and understanding on the part of the oral surgeon. It’s important that oral care and treatments be even more individualized than usual to help ensure the patient is both comfortable and able to get the care he or she needs to maintain proper oral health.
Begin with a simple consultation, so the doctor and patient can become familiar with each other. This type of a visit, without the stress of trying to complete any actual treatment, allows the doctor to get a good understanding of the patient’s special needs, while letting the patient experience the office setting, get to know the doctor, and become comfortable with everyone in the practice. These low-pressure consultations are invaluable for reducing stress down the road, when the patient comes in again for an actual procedure.
Once you reach the point of scheduling actual treatment, it’s important to understand that this appointment will not be quite the same as it would be for a patient without special needs. You may need to schedule additional time for the appointment, and in some cases, the patient may need to be sedated – to help the patient become relaxed enough for the doctor to be able to provide even routine oral care.
Maintaining Oral Health at Home
Patients with special needs don’t just need special considerations for office visits and dental procedures. Doctors should help special needs patients come up with action plans for maintaining the health of their teeth between visits. Depending upon the patient’s needs and abilities, there are tools that can help with oral health maintenance. Electric toothbrushes can make brushing easier for patients with limited mobility (plus they provide a clean that is superior to manual toothbrushes). A floss holder can make flossing easier – daily flossing is essential for maintaining good oral health. Some patients, depending upon their special needs, also may be able to use a daily mouthwash to help keep their mouths clean and healthy.
If you know of a patient with special needs that could benefit from oral assistance, contact Oral & Maxillofacial Surgery Nashville. We specialize in Dental Implants, Bone Grafting, Wisdom Teeth Removal, Jaw Reconstruction, TMJ, Sleep Apnea and more. We can help put together an individual treatment plan for special need patients that helps them maintain good oral health.