Special Needs Dentistry
All children need to learn good oral hygiene to keep their teeth healthy and to set the foundation for healthy habits. When the time comes to take your special needs child to the dentist, find the best dentist for kids. Especially if your child has special needs, it’s crucial that his first dentist visit be a positive experience. Special needs dentistry patients are an underserved group. Statistically, more than 50 million people in the U.S. have challenges that make life more difficult on a daily basis. Most dental practices nationwide probably have patients that have special needs they’re unaware of. Within that population are many children and young adults. Some of these children may have never been to a dentist because of fear or because their first experience with a dentist wasn’t a pleasant one. As a result, many people with special needs have problems with their teeth. Education Is the Key General often feel that they haven’t been adequately trained to handle the needs of these patients. When you choose the best dentist for kids, make sure the practice is specifically set up to be a dentist for special needs children. A dentist for special needs kids have extra training so that they’ll know how to make your child comfortable and cooperative when receiving examinations and treatment. You may not be sure whether your child falls into the category of “special needs.” Consider the following conditions that may pertain to your child:
- Eight to 10 percent of children — with a four-to-one ratio of boys to girls — constitute the most common behavioral issue of childhood.
- This disease affects nine percent of the population as a whole, and it’s more common in women and African Americans.
- The autism spectrum includes pervasive development disorder, Asperger syndrome and classic autistic disorder. It occurs in one in 80 children with a five-to-one ratio of boys to girls.
- Anxiety and/or depression. It affects eight to 13 percent of children approaching adolescence, with a two-to-one ratio of girls to boys.
- Cerebral palsy. This disorder causes significant delays in motor development, sometimes with intellectual disability as well. It’s present in about one percent of the population and more common in boys.
- Cleft lip and cleft palate. This birth defect affects less than one percent of the population. It may require multiple surgeries to repair, depending on its severity.
- Congenital cardiac disorder. This birth defect, found in about one percent of the population, requires special precautions to avoid infections.
- Down syndrome. Affecting about one percent of the population, this condition may have multiple oral complications that require special care.
- This disease hits about one percent of children, who may have more cavities, as well as faster tooth eruption, than the average child.
- It may go along with other disorders, such as ADHD and autism.
- Hearing impaired. About one percent of the population has a hearing disability. It’s more common in boys, who may need help communicating and understanding instructions.
Each of these challenges requires special preparation and care by the best rated dentist for kids. Dr. Mila Cohen of True Dental Care for Kids and Teens, a dentist for special needs children, is familiar with the condition your child has. She’ll be ready to handle any fears, resistance or questions you or your child may have. Communication Creates Comfort Your special needs child depends on you for many things. One of the most important of those is communication. Your child needs your help to understand the world and to meet each new challenge. For a child on the autism spectrum, for example just leaving the house is difficult, so going to the dentist can be like climbing a mountain. You need to prepare and communicate with your child about what to expect. Even the best dentist for kids needs to be prepared. Give your dentist as much information as possible about your child. Let him know what’s calming or soothing — as well as what may be upsetting or scary. Make Introductions When you choose the best dentist for kids, even special needs children, you need to know that you can work with the dentist and the technicians in the practice. There are several steps that you and your child’s dentist can take to make your special needs child comfortable and calm for their dental visits.
- Take a tour of the office.
- Set up a meeting with the dentist and techs — so your child will know and recognize people when they return.
- Let your child bring a comfort item, such as stuffed animal, to the office for appointments.
- Observe your child’s movements to help the dentist and staff determines if your child is relaxed or stressed.
- Hold your child’s hand while procedures are being done.
- Have the technicians explain everything they are doing before they do it.
- Keep instruments out of sight until needed.
- Start the exam using only fingers.
- Avoid interruptions in treatment.
- Keep staff in the room to a minimum.
- Make sure the best dentist for kids works slowly to acclimate your child, allowing him to get used to having things in his mouth.
- Keep lights out of your child’s eyes.
- Make sure sounds and odors are kept to a minimum.
- Reward cooperative behavior with something that the child loves.
- Use the same staff for every visit, so your child always sees familiar faces.
- Make visits as short as possible to avoid overstimulating your child.
Making the Choice When you make the decision to go to a dentist for special needs children, you’re establishing a long -term relationship. If things go well, keep your child in the same practice into adulthood to avoid disrupting his routine. Maintaining your child’s routine is less stressful for you and your child. Some things for you to consider before making your final choice include:
- Are the dentist and staff comfortable interacting with you and your child?
- Do they seem willing to form a relationship with you and your child?
- Does the staff listen to you and respond to your questions and concerns?
- Has the best dentist for kids and her staff had any special training to help them identify the needs of your child?
- Is the staff accommodating to any adaptations necessary to make your child comfortable?
- Do you feel you can trust the dentist and staff to keep your child’s care as easy and stress-free as possible?
True Dental Care for Kids & Teens Mila Cohen (NJ Kids Dentist) 255 Brunswick Street, Suite 5 New Jersey City, NJ 07302 (201) 565-0880