Enjoying Better Dental Checkups

Dental Health And Your Special Needs Child

Scheduling a dental visit can be a difficult time for parents and children alike. When your child has special needs, the process can be even more challenging. Some physical conditions or disabilities can cause children to have particular trouble with dental health. Many children with special needs also suffer from emotional issues, sensitivity to smells or textures and difficulty communicating. If your child has these or other problems, you should be aware of these issues that can compromise your child's dental health. 

An Unusual Eruption Schedule

Special needs that include issues with a child's growth and physical development can often cause teeth to appear at times other than what may be considered normal. This usually means that teeth appear much later than normal, but sometimes tooth eruption can happen early as well. 

This problem generally doesn't require intervention, but your dentist will want to x-ray your child's mouth in order to monitor potential tooth growth. 

Abnormalities in Teeth

Sometimes children with special needs will have teeth that are larger or smaller than usual or have large gaps between teeth. For example, the National Down's Syndrome Association reports that children with Down's Syndrome often have smaller teeth and roots than the average person. 

When teeth are an unusual size, they can be harder to keep clean. Your dentist will instruct you on the best ways to keep your child's teeth and gums as clean and healthy as possible. 

Broken Teeth

Children who suffer from seizures or who experience violent episodes can easily damage their teeth. You can help prevent dental trauma by requiring your child to sit while eating and drinking, carefully monitoring for potential falls and making sure your child is properly restrained in the car and on playground equipment. 

Your dentist might also recommend a mouth guard for specific activities. 

Extreme Dental Anxiety

Everyone can suffer from dental anxiety, but kids with special needs are especially vulnerable. Your child may not be able to understand what is happening at the dentist's office and may be unnerved by unfamiliar smells, tastes and sensations. If dental procedures are uncomfortable or even painful, it can significantly increase the anxiety for next time. 

You can do a lot to help resolve these problems for your child. Try these tips. 

  • Talk to your child in detail about what to expect at the dentist, even if you aren't sure whether your child understands what you are saying. Reading books about dental visits can also help prepare kids for what is going to happen. 
  • Schedule a time to bring your child to the dental office before the actual appointment. Allow your child to observe the office without the stress of being a patient. Allow the child to meet the dentist and the dental staff. 
  • Learn calming techniques to do with your child before your trip to the dentist. Deep breathing, meditation and even aromatherapy can go a long way in relieving anxiety. Discover what works for your child based on ability and results. 
  • Some dental offices specialize in caring for kids with special needs, and the staff there will know how to manage your child's emotional reactions. Even if you cannot find one of these offices, you can speak to the dentist and dental staff in advance and explain your child's particular issues. Ask how they handle anxiety in children. 

Children with special needs require and deserve quality dental care. When you are aware of specific issues and problems you and your child might face related to dental care, you can help reduce the stress and damage that may occur. Protect your child's beautiful smile by being proactive about dental care.  For more tips, contact a dentist like Kyle J Frisinger DMD.