Dealing With The Dental Health Of A Special-Needs Child

5 June 2020
 Categories: Dentist, Blog


As a parent, you want to do everything you can to help your child have good overall health and good oral health. If your child has special needs, they may face some unique challenges when it comes to taking care of their teeth. Read on to learn more about these unique issues and some possible solutions.

What Dental Health Challenges Do Special-Needs Children Face?

Both physical and behavioral difficulties can affect your child's ability to take care of their teeth. For instance, some children have sensory challenges, so the texture of a toothbrush or the taste of toothpaste may bother them.

Some children may have behavioral problems and only want to eat high-sugar foods or not want to take care of their teeth at all. Other children may have physical difficulties that affect their oral health; for instance, a child with cerebral palsy may struggle with fine motor movements which can make it hard for them to adequately brush and floss.

What Can You Do to Help Your Child?

Although dental health is certainly a challenge, it's important to stick with good habits and help your child as best you can since cavities are one of the top chronic conditions affecting children.

So what can you do? If your child has sensory issues, there are very soft-bristled brushes on the market that may help them. You may also want to try a flavorless toothpaste brand. If your child has a physical disability, they may need help with their oral hygiene until they are a little older. Your child might benefit from occupational therapy, since these professionals can help children learn activities of daily living (ADLs), like brushing their teeth.

You'll also want to start regularly taking your child to a pediatric dentist.

How Can a Pediatric Dentist Help?

When dentists attend school, they have the option of specializing. These specializations are recognized by the American Dental Association (ADA), and dentists are required to undergo additional years of training. One of these specialties is pediatric dentistry.

A pediatric dentist, or a children's dental care specialist, understands how to work with children and may be more familiar with how to work with special-needs children. For example, if a special-needs child is incredibly anxious or has behavioral issues, then these dentists can adjust their treatment timelines to go at a pace the patient is comfortable with. Your dentist may even decide to have your child come in for a few non-treatment visits to build trust and get used to the office.

If your special-needs child has jaw malformations or congenitally missing teeth, your pediatric dentist can address these issues and recommend the correct course of surgery, dental appliances, etc.

Lastly, pediatric dentists can use sedation methods to help children get through more invasive procedures. Some people think that general anesthesia is the only sedation method, but there is also conscious sedation and deep sedation, which can be safer for children. If your child has a severe behavioral issue or they have a physical problem that causes too much movement for treatment, then sedation dentistry can be a huge boon so that your child can get the treatment they need.

Contact a pediatric dentist in your area today. They can provide you with additional education and tools for at-home oral hygiene. For more information about pediatric dental care, visit a website like