Dental health for kids with special needs

As a parent of a child with special needs, it’s natural to be concerned with how a child will cope with a dental visit – something all parents are concerned with to some degree. But by avoiding or putting off dental visits, you are missing out on the benefits that come with preventative dentistry.

In fact, according to the Maternal and Child Health Bureau, children with special needs are almost twice as likely to have unmet dental problems compared to children without special needs. So don’t neglect your child’s dental health; talk to us and we will do everything we can to make sure your child is comfortable, and to use an approach that best suits their specific health and behavioural needs.

Why are some special needs kids more at risk from poor dental health?

There are a range of reasons as to why a child with special needs could have a higher risk of dental problems:

– their disability may interfere with their ability to brush and floss their teeth on their own

– their diet may be causing an increased risk of poor dental health

– they could have difficulty clearing food from the mouth

– the focus of the family could be on more pressing health issues

– immune systems could be impaired or medications could have side effects that impact oral health

– habits like teeth grinding can wear down enamel – Some conditions are more likely to require special dental care, such as down syndrome, cerebral palsy, epileptic or seizure disorders, vision and hearing impairments, cleft lip/palate and other craniofacial conditions, and learning and developmental disabilities.

Home care tips  

There are things you can do to help your child build a regular, preventative dental care routine:

– Help them brush twice a day, ideally after breakfast and before bed

– To encourage brushing for two minutes, play a song or video they like for the two minutes

– Floss once a day once they have adjacent teeth

– Use fluoride toothpaste: you can ask your dentist what type and exactly how much to use for your child

– If your child can’t tolerate toothpaste (perhaps because of gagging or an inability to spit) you can try brushing their teeth with a fluoride rinse or fluoridated water. This will still help prevent gum disease and tooth decay.

– Use a toothbrush with soft bristles and replace regularly (when the bristles no longer stand straight up, usually every three months).

– Encourage healthy snacks, and restrict sweet treats to meal times

Overall, the best thing you can do for your child is start preventative dentistry early, by implementing good habits and regular visits to your dentist to ensure your child can enjoy a healthy smile.

If you would like to discuss the dental care of your child with special needs, call us on 9317 5636 or book online.