Navigating Dental Hygiene When Caring for Children with Special Needs

February 2, 2024

Filed under: Uncategorized — kidsmileslincoln @ 11:02 pm
a child smiling during a dental checkup

When it comes to parenting, it’s normal to constantly think about your child’s wellbeing—are they eating well, getting enough sleep, and staying on top of their oral hygiene? Concerning the latter, ensuring that your child is brushing, flossing, and caring for their teeth and gums daily is no easy task. Furthermore, things can be even more challenging if your child has special needs. Continue reading below to learn more about a few of the obstacles that parents of children with special needs may face when it comes to helping their kiddo maintain a healthy, happy smile!

Developmental Disabilities & Oral Health

To put it simply, certain developmental disabilities such as autism, cerebral palsy, Down syndrome, and others can create unique challenges when it comes to accomplishing daily tasks, especially those involving self-care such as brushing and flossing. This means that people, especially children, with these disabilities might need a little extra help to maintain optimal oral health.

For example, mental capabilities will vary from child to child, and these can have an impact on how well they follow instructions at a dental office or maintain good hygiene habits at home. Behavior problems can also complicate oral care; if a child is too anxious, stressed, or disruptive to remain seated in a dental chair, needless to say, treatment might be challenging to complete.

Of course, mobility issues and other bodily conditions can also impact oral care. If children struggle to lift or manipulate objects, simple tasks like brushing and flossing become quite difficult to carry out to completion. It might also be tough for children to keep their mouths open, or they might have a sensitive gag reflex. The bottom line is dental care is inherently different when children are involved, but even more so when there are special needs that must be taken into consideration.

Helpful Tips for Caregivers

Taking care of a child with special needs requires patience and skill; however, when it comes to oral hygiene, there are thankfully many things you can do to make things a little easier on you and your little one. Consider these tips:

  • Consistency Is Key – Whether you brush your child’s teeth for them or closely supervise and help out when necessary, be sure that it’s happening twice daily—no exceptions! If necessary, buy a special toothbrush or modify your child’s current one so that they can carry this crucial task out every single day.
  • Flossing Matters Too – This might prove more challenging than brushing; however, it cannot be neglected. Since traditional dental floss isn’t always easy to manipulate, especially for children with special needs, you might turn to precut dental flossers or even a Waterpik to help your child out.
  • Routine Dental Care with a Trustworthy Provider – Routine preventive care is important for the prevention of serious oral health issues; only by seeing your child twice a year can their dentist ensure they aren’t subjected to painful dental problems. This also helps your child to build up trust with their dentist, which ultimately makes future treatment much smoother.

About the Practice

Our team here at Kids’ Smiles on Lincoln has proudly served the needs of families in Worcester, MA for several years, offering a wide range of services for children of all ages. We’re also pleased to provide specific accommodations for children with special needs in a welcoming, compassionate environment. If you have any questions about the blog or you’d like to get in touch with us to arrange a visit for your child, feel free to visit us online or call us today for more information. Telephone: (508) 506-8859.

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