A lot of parents of kids with disabilities overlook the importance of proper dental care. What they don’t know is that children with developmental problems are those who are more at risk of having oral health issues. Conditions that involve a child’s emotions, behavior and physical status are connected to these issues. Here are dental facts for kids with disabilities that you should be aware of.
Disabilities among kids come in various types. Those that require special attention to dental health are those suffering from vision and hearing difficulties, seizure disorders, Down syndrome, autism and cerebral palsy. The good news though is that dentists who handle these patients were required to have special training and hands-on experience.
Teeth development is usually affected when a child has a disability. For example, one who has Down syndrome is prone to malformation of teeth, missing or extra tooth and delay in tooth eruption. These conditions can result to malocclusion, poor alignment and tooth crowding, making cleaning difficult and more at risk of oral problems. Moreover, these problems can also promote gum diseases and dental caries.
Dental Facts for Kids with Cerebral Palsy
Children born with cerebral palsy may suffer from dental problems due to a number of causes:
- Behavioral problems
- Problems with brushing and flossing due to impaired coordination and hyperactivity in gag reflex and biting
- Difficulty in swallowing, where the food stays longer in the mouth than the usual
- Too much teeth grinding that leads to enamel deterioration
- Prone to gastroesophageal reflux, and increasing the risk of teeth erosion
Applying the right dental hygiene to a child with cerebral palsy will depend on the type and severity of the condition. If the child has a strong gag reflex, the child’s chin can be positioned downward while the placing the right instrument inside the mouth.
For the type of cerebral palsy affects the cognitive system, the procedures should be properly explained and that means to a level that the kid will understand. For kids with cerebral palsy affecting motor movements, sounds and lights should be minimized as these can cause spastic reflexes.
Dental Facts for Kids with Autism
Kids with autism are more difficult to handle in terms of dental care. The senses may become overloaded once the child smells something strange, hear loud sounds and see sharp instruments. Autistic kids become anxious once they notice something unfamiliar, making it very challenging to calm them down for a dental procedure.
This is the reason why almost 50% of kids with autism have either poor or fair dental health. To address this problem, the dentist and the child’s parents should work together so that the child won’t find it hard to enter the dental clinic. The child can be oriented first to the clinic’s door, to the staff and finally, to the dentist and the dental chair.
It is very understandable for a parent of a “special” child to take the child to the dentist. That’s why these parents should not hesitate to voice out their problems to the provider. Dentists who are trained to handle kids with disabilities have more than enough training to manage these scenarios.