Special Needs Dentistry for Children: What to Expect

Special Needs Dentistry for Children: What to Expect

Team Pediatric Dentistry

Children with special needs may experience challenges when visiting the dentist. Pediatric dentists are uniquely qualified to help these children feel more relaxed in the office and more likely to stay calm during treatment.

Children with the following conditions and disorders may need extra accommodations at the dentist's office:

  • Autism
  • Cerebral Palsy
  • ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder)
  • Down Syndrome
  • Craniofacial Abnormalities
  • Epilepsy
  • Psychological Conditions

Children with anxiety or difficulty sitting still also benefit from these accommodations.

Oral Health and Patients With Special Needs

Patients with special needs may encounter difficulties that impact their oral health. Children with special needs are more likely to develop certain oral conditions that lead to a higher rate of tooth decay, gum disease, and orthodontic problems.

Due to developmental factors, special-needs children have dental conditions that impact their lifelong oral health. Caregivers may have issues helping these children care for their teeth properly. As a result of ongoing oral hygiene issues, adults with special needs have higher rates of tooth decay and other oral health challenges.

How Dentists Adapt Their Care for Special-Needs Children

Pediatric dentists ensure that they select friendly, accommodating, gentle team members. They emphasize the need for open communication with patients and their caregivers.

Dentists who treat children have expert skills for distracting, engaging, and comforting young patients with and without special needs. They often show and tell the child what they are about to do before each step. This simple practice can reassure children worried about what will happen next.

When possible, pediatric dentists often engage their patients in conversation about their pets, toys, and schools to distract them from the work being performed.

The dentist may recommend sedation if distraction and comfort techniques do not calm the child enough. Nitrous oxide, the most common form of dental sedation, is safe for most children and wears off quickly.

Frequently Asked Questions About Special Needs Dentistry for Children

Can my child receive sedation at the dentist if they are fearful or can't sit still?

Children can receive safe sedation at the dentist's office. Light sedation, like nitrous oxide, is frequently sufficient to get children through simple procedures. Deeper sedation, depending on your child's needs, could be necessary.

Why do children with special needs struggle with oral health?

Parents may experience challenges helping their children care for their teeth and gums. When children do not brush and floss as directed and when they do not receive dental cleanings, their oral health could suffer.

Call Pediatric Dental Associates of Clinton

If you care for a special-needs child, you understand how challenging oral care can be. Please call our Annandale, NJ, office at 908-735-6300 to schedule a visit with Dr. McGuire. She will evaluate your child's needs and help you decide how to make dental care more manageable and effective.