The National Survey of Children with Special Health Care Needs says that more than 12 percent of children under the age of 18 in the United States are considered to have special needs. While the nature of these needs can vary depending on the child, there is one commonality that can be present in a lot of these children: a more pertinent need for specialized dental care. Thankfully, special needs dentists that specifically focus their care on these children are available in some parts of the country. As a parent of a child with special needs, it is important to understand why visiting one of these dentists can be important.
Children with special needs can have abnormal issues with their teeth and mouth.
A number of things can mean children with special needs can have more abnormalities with their smiles. For some children, issues with the shape of the mouth can be the issue. For example, a lot of special needs children may be born with a cleft palate or abnormally shaped gums. Likewise, it is not uncommon for these children to have problems with how their teeth grow or missing teeth altogether. Some children can have dental issues related specifically to the medications they have to take. For instance, some medications are known to break down the enamel of teeth. It is important that you have a dentist who understands these unique issues.
Children with special needs may have severe reactions to dental treatments.
One of the biggest reasons to seek out a special needs dentistry professional for a child that has special needs is because some children with certain disabilities can have a harder time emotionally with dental treatment. For instance, a child with autism spectrum disorder may have extreme reactions to the dentist touching them or the sound of a dental drill. In a special needs dentist's office, there is a deeper understanding of the unusual reactions and plans are made with treatment in an effort to help thwart the issues altogether. For example, the dentist may offer more sedation for general treatments than what would be considered typical.
Children with special needs may not properly take care of their teeth.
Due to sensitivities to toothpaste, a stronger gag reflex, and general developmental issues, many children with special needs do not take good care of their teeth. And, even though parents may try their hardest to take care of their child's teeth, there can still be additional issues. When you have a dentist that understands this, they can help you be more vigilant about preventative care.