Children with Disabilities
Our program can provide examination, dental treatment and maintenance for children with physical and intellectual disabilities, to ensure they maintain optimal oral health.
We have access to either IV Sedation or General Anaesthetic Dentistry at Local Hospitals for special needs patients, and can train parents and carers in dental disease prevention and home care.
To keep out of pocket costs down, GuS offers FREE mobile dental assessment and treatment services for eligible children with physical and intellectual disabilities (aged 2 – 17 years of age). For further information, click here…
Our staff have the relevant professional training, police clearances and the equipment required to work with special needs patients.
Dental Care For Special Needs Children & Adults
Facts On Special Needs Dentistry
- Special needs patients can be defined as children or adults with a chronic physical, developmental, behavioural or emotional condition that substantially limits one or more major life activity and who need dental or health services beyond what is generally required.
- Some of the more common conditions that require special care in dentistry include Down syndrome, cerebral palsy, epileptic or seizure disorders, vision and hearing impairments, cleft lip/palate and other craniofacial conditions, and learning and developmental disabilities.
- People with special needs are very diverse in terms of their oral health. Many people with special needs have the same oral health conditions as the rest of the population. Many others have conditions and disabilities that are associated with an increased risk for various oral health problems. Still other people with special needs begin with normal teeth and oral health, but suffer from more dental disease.
- Why would a person with a disability be born with good oral health but suffer more dental problems? There are many reasons. Some disabilities interfere with the ability of the person to brush and floss on his own. Some children with special needs are on diets detrimental to dental health or may have difficulty clearing food from the mouth. Certain medications can lead to increased risk of dental disease. Finally, sometimes the time, energy and financial resources of the family are devoted to other more pressing health problems.
- Special needs patients are less likely to visit a dentist regularly and are more likely to have missing teeth.
- Dentists, caregivers, support organizations, and patients with special needs must work together to
- improve access to preventive dental services and make every effort to restore teeth - not extract them.
- Decades ago, children with certain disabilities would have had little hope of reaching adulthood. Through medical advancements, children with severe health conditions are living longer than ever before. This success has created a new dental care crisis.
Certain Conditions Pose Oral Health Risks:
What parents should watch for:
- Developmental disabilities Enamel irregularities, gum infections, baby teeth or permanent teeth coming in later than expected
- Down syndrome Gum infections, dry mouth, problems with the way teeth fit together
- Cleft lip/palate Dental decay, congenitally missing teeth, crowded teeth or bite problems, other craniofacial anomalies
- Cerebral palsy Dental decay or gum disease if food is not easily cleared from the teeth or mouth
Home Care Tips
Many people with physical or developmental disabilities need someone to help them with regular preventive care. Here are some helpful tips.
- Brush twice a day. The best times are after breakfast and before bed.
- Begin flossing once a day when adjacent tooth surfaces cannot be cleansed by brushing alone.
- Parents and caregivers should use a smear of fluoridated toothpaste for children under 2-years-old. For those 2 to 5 years of age, use a pea-size amount of fluoridated toothpaste should be used. Swallowing too much toothpaste can lead to fluorosis, a cosmetic condition usually characterized by white or brown specks on the teeth.
- If a child cannot tolerate toothpaste, perhaps because of gagging or an inability to spit, parents and caregivers should brush the teeth with a fluoride rinse or fluoridated water. This will still help prevent gum disease and tooth decay.
- Use a toothbrush with soft bristles. Get a new one when the bristles no longer stand straight up, usually every three months.
- Talk to a dentist for recommendations to meet a special child’s needs. Many products, such as floss holders, fluoride rinses and adaptive aids for toothbrushes, are available to help a patient with special needs prevent tooth decay and gum disease.
Please note that some information has been adapted from the AMERICAN ACADEMY OF PEDIATRIC DENTISTRY 2013 ‘Fast Facts’ factsheet