Oral Health Considerations for Special Needs Children

December 14, 2023

Filed under: Uncategorized — surfsupdental @ 4:40 pm
Two special needs children playing with toys

As a parent or guardian of a child with special needs, you likely have a busy schedule and a full emotional load. Hopefully, you have a supportive group of family, friends, and medical professionals around to help both you and your young one. That group should also include a pediatric dentist because, often, children with special needs are at a higher risk of oral health problems. Read on below to learn more about this connection and what you can do to help your young one keep their smile as healthy as possible.

Special Needs and Oral Health Problems

Depending on the specifics of your child’s condition, they might be at a heightened risk of:

  • Oral development problems. Children with Down syndrome may have delays in tooth eruption, malformed teeth, or extra teeth. This can lead to crowding and poor dental alignment.
  • Decay and gum disease. Some kids may not have the physical or mental capacity to adhere to good oral hygiene habits. As a result, they may be more prone to cavities and gum infections.
  • Teeth grinding. Some disabilities are associated with increased bruxism (teeth grinding), which can cause significant wear and tear on the teeth.
  • Medication side effects. Some medications have dry mouth as a side effect, which can increase the risk of cavities and gum disease. Other medications can cause overgrowth of gum tissue.

What Can You Do?

Caring for the oral health of a child with special needs can be complex. Fortunately, pediatric dentists have completed extensive training in how to care for young patients from all walks of life.

When you call to book an appointment, let the dental team know about your child’s condition. They can block off extra time for your child’s exam so no rushing will be necessary. The pediatric dentist can evaluate your child’s oral health, thoroughly clean their oral tissues, and recommend steps that you can take to care for their smile. For example, they might suggest that you:

  • Limit your child’s intake of sugary and starchy snacks.
  • Talk to their doctor about changing medications that can adversely affect oral health.
  • Adapt your child’s at-home oral hygiene routine so it is as thorough as possible.
  • Consent to dental treatments that can reduce discomfort and optimize your child’s oral health and function.

Your child’s smile is precious! Partner with a pediatric dentist so their teeth and gums can stay as healthy as possible.

Meet the Practice

Dr. Bryce Cushing is an experienced pediatric dentist with extensive experience in working with special needs children. Our team always works to create a welcoming environment for the families who visit us. If you would like to learn how we may be able to help your little one enjoy improved oral health, contact our Papillion office at 402-773-7873.

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