When you’re the parent of a child with special needs, you’re used to making accommodations at home. You know your child’s needs best. Furthermore, you are your child’s best advocate because you know your child. So when you’re looking for someone to help your child with any healthcare needs, you need a healthcare professional with specialized training. Kids with special needs require dental care like all other children, but they benefit most from a pediatric dentist who specializes in kids with special needs. Keep reading to learn how a Lexington pediatric dentist can help your child with special needs.
What Is Special Needs Dentistry?
Special needs dentistry is a type of dental care offered by dentists with specialized training to work with patients who have disabilities.
Pediatric dentists who specialize in caring for patients with special needs will have particular amenities for their patients:
- Rearrange services
- Provide additional staff
- Use specialized equipment
- Focus on an office environment with accommodations
The dentist who has specialized training will understand the physical needs of a patient in a wheelchair and the emotional needs of an autistic patient. Ultimately, a dentist who focuses on patients with special needs will make a point of providing anxiety-free pediatric dental care.
Adults and children who need special needs dental care can have any one of a variety of disabilities from MS to autism to spina bifida. Dentists who focus on patients with special needs will also encounter deafness, blindness, and other physical disabilities.
Oral Sensitivity and Disabilities
Often children with special needs have more sensitivity around and in their mouths than kids who do not have special needs.
As a result, parents of kids with special needs should seek out a good pediatric dentist with experience in working with kids who have special needs. A qualified pediatric dentist will walk parents through their child’s oral needs.
The dentist will understand the oral structure changes and feeding problems that will occur and will prepare parents for the changes that will occur in the child’s future.
Sometimes children with special needs just have a difficult time opening their mouths completely. They may have an underdeveloped jaw or severe anxiety, making flossing and regular brushing a challenge. As a result, these children develop cavities and gum disease more easily.
Children with disabilities that affect their senses often have an aversion to the texture of a toothbrush and the overall sensation of toothpaste in their mouth.
Sometimes kids with special needs have limited diets high in sugar. As a result, they develop cavities and other problems more quickly than other children.
Pediatric dentists understand these challenges. They can become therapeutic partners for the child and the parent in caring for the child.
Children with special needs will have difficulty acclimating to the dentist. Thus, a pediatric dentist’s priority is making the child feel comfortable.
The dentist will cater to your child’s physical, mental, and emotional needs as they get used to the dentist’s office.
Play Then Evaluate
Often a dentist will facilitate a special playtime visit before they evaluate a child. They will have an office with a playroom that has books, magazines, and toys so children can become comfortable in an office setting. Some parents may even opt for multiple visits to help the child feel comfortable in the office before the dentist evaluates them.
After acclimating kids to the office setting, a dentist will then have a staff member help the child transition from the play area to an exam room. The dentist will take time to visit with parents and children about oral health and how to care for teeth.
At this point, the child may even get to sit in a dental chair. The dental assistant or dentist will explain the different instruments in the room, so the child knows what is going on.
Then the dentist or dental assistant will conduct a brief cleaning and exam. Children’s dentists know how to follow a child’s cues, so they pay close attention to their actions and reactions.
A good pediatric dentist will have specialized training, so they know how to treat the whole child. They give them oral hygiene help and deal with the special dental anxiety that comes with kids.
Treatment and Sedation
After the first visit, a child will often have to come back for treatment.
Because children with special needs often have high anxiety or sensory challenges, many pediatric dentists have various sedation and relaxation options for children.
The most popular tool to help patients relax is nitrous oxide or laughing gas. The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recognizes nitrous oxide with oxygen as a safe and effective agent that dentists can use to calm a child’s fear and improve communication.
It simply helps all patients relax, but it works especially well on children with special needs.
Oral Conscious Sedation
With oral conscious sedation, a dentist will give medication to a child in the office to reduce their anxiety and improve their cooperation. The child is still conscious and breathes on their own. At the same time, the dentist and their staff monitor the child’s vital signs throughout all stages of the procedure.
Some pediatric dentists will also offer general anesthesia. If your child needs extensive treatment or a child with special needs, general anesthesia is a great option.
Choose the Best Lexington Pediatric Dentist
A good Lexington pediatric dentist understands children with special needs. They know that their oral cavity may be more sensitive than that of a child without special needs.
As a result, they take time and treat their patients carefully and purposefully.
Are you looking for a good children’s dentist? Contact us today.
We recognize each child’s unique needs, and we emphasize one-on-one attention for each child to create a treatment plan that works best for that child.
We aim to prevent dental issues as opposed to just treating dental issues. We recommend children come in for a check-up every six months. In that checkup, we will ensure your child’s teeth are growing properly.
Give us a call today and schedule your appointment. We would love to help you and your child out today.