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Special Needs Dentistry: Are Children With Special Needs More Susceptible to Certain Oral Health Problems?

July 31, 2019

Filed under: Uncategorized — drbenzley @ 4:23 pm
child receiving a dental examination

Do you need a professional with knowledge and expertise in special needs dentistry? Getting dental care that’s tailored to your little one can help you feel confident and comfortable about their future smile. You may not have known, but certain oral health problems are more common in children with special needs, which is why routine visits and a proper at-home oral hygiene routine can do such wonders. Read on to learn about how dental health varies with children that have special needs and what you can do as a parent to combat these issues at home.

Common Oral Conditions

Children with chronic physical, developmental, behavioral, or emotional conditions have unique needs when it comes to receiving dental and medical services. Choosing a professional with experience with patients that have special needs can ensure that they get the individualized care they deserve, especially since their mouths are more susceptible to different oral conditions.

Children with Down syndrome and genetic disorders may not have their teeth erupt past their gums until up to two years. It’s also more common to have extra, malformed, or missing teeth. These issues can result in crowding and misalignment, which create nooks and crannies for plaque and oral bacteria to hideout. This can make them more vulnerable to developing gum disease, cavities, and decay as well.

Children who are intellectual disabled or have cerebral palsy may grind their teeth and wear down their enamel. Additionally, little ones with impaired immune systems or take medications that contain sugars or cause dry mouth are also at an increased risk of tooth decay. Plus, medications can also cause gum tissue to overgrow, so be sure to check with your professional if you notice this as a side-effect.

Oral Hygiene at Home and Nutrition

Even before your child has visible teeth, you can still keep their gums healthy by wiping them with a wet gauze pad. Once their teeth have begun to appear, be sure to brush their teeth twice each day with a gentle soft toothbrush and floss routinely. For the best results, ask your pediatric dentist about when the best time to begin using fluoride toothpaste is and how much you should use.

Nutrition may not seem as though it has that large of an impact on oral health, however, some of your child’s favorite snacks and drinks could be causing them to develop cavities. When you monitor the amount of foods with sugar and starch in them that your little one consumes, you can limit enamel erosion caused by acid. Try to substitute fruits, vegetables, and water for snacks and be sure to brush their teeth after they’ve eaten or drank anything high in sugars or starch.

Pediatric dentistry requires advanced training and knowledge, which is why it’s best to search out a professional that has these qualifications plus experience with patients with special needs. When you visit your next routine checkup and cleaning with your son or daughter, your children’s dentist can help you develop a prevention plan that can ward off oral health problems and keep their mouth in tip-top shape for years to come.

About the Author

Dr. Layne Benzley has been voted one of the top pediatric dentists in The Denver Magazine from 2013 to 2016. He has completed a two-year pediatric dental residency that sharpened his skills concerning children’s dental needs, growth and development, behavior management, and advanced sedation techniques. He has also completed rigorous examination and education to become board certified and has been recognized as a Diplomate by the American Board of Pediatric Dentistry. For questions or to schedule a routine checkup and cleaning, visit Castle Rock Smiles’ website or contact 303-660-5373.