Preventative dentistry, as the name suggests, are steps that someone can take with their oral health to try to prevent unnecessary or avoidable damage to their teeth or gums. These steps are important for everyone but especially crucial for young children who are still developing. If you have a special needs child in your life, you can help them develop and maintain high-quality oral health from early on in life.
Dental Care for Special Needs Children
Regular Dental Care
In addition to any special steps you might take to protect oral care, the first step in dental care for special needs children is dental care habits. On a daily level, this includes encouraging children to brush and floss their teeth at least twice daily – once in the morning and once at night. For many children, it can help to develop a routine to ensure dental hygiene is a habit.
In the case of some special needs children and young children, this can mean making sure to provide extra help. Some studies suggest that there are many special needs individuals can struggle with dental care due to limited independence and its relation to self-care.
It’s also important to remember the extra steps to dental care as well as dental check-ups and teeth cleanings every six months.
Preventative Dentistry Services
When you take a child to see their dentist, they may offer their preventative measures to help with dental care for special needs children. In children, this seen in the form of advice and tools to reduce habits like thumb sucking. However, it can also include procedures such as dental sealants to fight off early tooth decay or orthodontic gear for problems like uneven spacing between the teeth.
While you’re at the office, you should give the dentist information on the dental history of the child’s immediate, biological family, to the best of your ability. Doing this will help determine if they’re predisposed to any potential oral health conditions.
A Note On Trips to the Dentist
Trips to the dentist can be fairly intimidating to anyone. It’s even more commonly a stressful setting for children. If a child has special needs such as sensitivity to sensory experiences or even limited physical mobility, these trips can get even more stressful.
The best way to combat this is to be prepared. Make sure to talk to your dentist about your child’s accommodations and needs. Working with an understanding physician is invaluable in this situation. On top of that, prepare the child themselves. Explaining to them clearly who the dentist is and what they will be doing will be helpful. For some children, having a consultation meeting in which they can meet the dentist and see their office can be helpful.
Another big resource is using social stories. One of our favorites is MVPkids Going to the Dentist. It uses pictures along with words, so your child will better understand the process before going to the dentist.
Guards for Bruxism
Bruxism, or grinding of the teeth, is a common condition for children. It can be caused by many factors ranging from diet to stress. Unfortunately, if left unchecked, it can wear down their teeth and enamel as well as hurt their jaw.
Luckily, some preventative measures you can take. The most direct and steadfast is to use a bruxism guard. These guards are simply preventative, though. Whereas tools like braces can be helpful in solving a problem by straightening teeth, mouth guards only serve as a barrier to prevent harmful grinding.
Watching Children’s Diets
It’s no secret that our diets have a large bearing on our oral health. Constantly consuming sugary drinks and sweets is more likely to result in dental problems like cavities. It’s a good idea to make sure they’re eating a healthy, balanced diet with confections and limit treats to the occasional snack.
If you aren’t sure how to plan out this type of diet, look into non-cariogenic options. This is simply a term for a diet that doesn’t promote cavity development. This topic is another area that a dentist can offer advice about when it comes to dental care for special needs children.
Dental Care for Special Needs Children
The dental health of anyone, especially children, is just as important as the rest of their physical health. By taking steps like these, you can help set the special needs child in your life upon a solid foundation of good dental habits and positive oral health.