Finding a dentist who treats children with special needs can be a challenge. Depending on your child’s needs, special equipment or training may be necessary. Then there’s a dentist’s temperament—will they be patient and understanding? Or will they cause your child stress? Our practice is committed to providing compassionate care and working with each of our special needs patients on an individual basis, but if you’re not local, here’s how to find a qualified special needs dentist in your area.
Look for a Pediatric Dentist
Most general dentists provide pediatric dentistry, but that doesn’t mean they’re pediatric dentists. A pediatric dentist is a specialist who received two to three additional years of training and education beyond dental school. Part of this training focuses on treating patients with special needs. When you choose a dentist with this specialization, you can be assured that your child will be getting the best possible care. Not only is Dr. Mary Jo McGuire a pediatric dentist, she’s also been named one of the Top Pediatric Dentists in the state by New Jersey Monthly several years in a row.
Find a Dentist That Provides SDF Treatment
Many children with special needs have difficulty tolerating the process of getting a cavity filled—particularly the drilling. The sound and sensation can be a lot to handle, but leaving cavities untreated can lead to pain and compromise your child’s dental health.
SDF is an excellent solution for some patients, as it allows us to halt the progression of a cavity. While SDF isn’t a fit for all situations—it changes the color of the tooth, so it’s best for teeth near the back of the mouth—it means your child won’t have to have their tooth drilled and filled, making treating decay a much more comfortable experience.
Ask About Laughing Gas
Laughing gas, or nitrous oxide, helps many patients with special needs get the dental care they need without stress or trauma. We understand that as a parent, you may have concerns about the safety of sedation dentistry, which is why we only use laughing gas at our practice. This is a safe, effective option that will help your child relax with very few risks or side effects. Side effects that do occur are typically mild, and include feelings of lightheadedness, dizziness, and nausea.
Nitrous oxide is inhaled through a small mask placed on your child’s nose. It takes effect quickly and wears off just as fast, which means if your child doesn’t like the way it makes them feel, we can remove the mask and they’ll feel normal again within seconds. That said, most children tolerate nitrous oxide well and it allows them to get through their dental treatments feeling calm and relaxed.
Choose a Dentist Who Works Closely With You
The best way to ensure a successful appointment is for us to coordinate with you and any of your child’s other care providers that you’d like to include, whether it’s doctors, therapists, caregivers, or teachers. We want you to feel comfortable bringing your concerns to us; before your child’s appointment, we’ll want to know about your child’s needs, how they’ve handled previous appointments, and what your expectations are.