Dental Concerns of a Child With Special Needs and Finding a Suitable Special Needs Dentist for Treatment

Many pediatric dentists also specialize in the treatment of children with special needs. People who are diagnosed with special needs may have unique oral health issues that accompany their condition. Here is a bit of information about the dental concerns of a child with special needs and how to select a suitable dentist to treat a special needs patient.

Dental Problems Related to Special Needs

Some dental issues often present themselves in children with special needs. Here are a few of them:

  • Dry mouth. Dry mouth occurs when there is too little saliva in the mouth. The condition can increase the likelihood of tooth decay, periodontal disease, and mouth infections because the amount of saliva present may not be sufficient to dilute inflammatory oral acids and rinse away excessive amounts of oral bacteria. A child with special needs may be more likely to develop dry mouth because of differences in their saliva production or due to side effects from their medications.
  • Food pouching. Some children with special needs hold food in the pouches formed by their inner cheeks. The bacteria in the mouth can feed on the carbohydrates in the food and release large quantities of acidic waste that incite tooth decay and inflame the child's gum tissues.
  • Dental grinding. Some special needs children grind their teeth regularly during the day and at night. The pressure from the grinding can erode the tooth enamel.
  • Halitosis. Special needs children may suffer from halitosis due to side effects from medications, sinus issues, and digestive concerns. Additionally, they may have trouble thoroughly brushing and flossing their teeth because of dexterity issues.

Finding the Right Special Needs Dentist

When choosing a dentist for your special needs child, there are multiple factors to consider. Here are a few of them:

  • Location proximity. If your child has trouble with lengthy car rides, it is best to find a special needs dental office that is close to your home.
  • ADA accessibility. The dental office will need to be wheelchair-accessible if your child is transported by wheelchair.
  • Special needs experience. Your child's dentist should have prior experience treating special needs patients. They should already have developed treatment strategies to help ensure that your child's dental visits are comfortable and effective.

Sedation options. A special needs child may benefit from miles sedation during their appointment. you can check with the dentist beforehand to determine what options they may have available.

To schedule a dental appointment for your special needs child, contact the office of a special needs dentist in your local area.