Oral health plays an integral role in overall health. Unfortunately, not everyone has full access to the care they need. At times, it is difficult for disabled and special needs individuals to receive adequate dental care for a variety of reasons. Some disabilities can make providing care more complicated for both the dentist and the patient.
Everyone deserves good oral health. It is possible to eliminate the barriers that prevent effective dental care for disabled/special needs clients by using strategically applied dental care solutions.
Why Special Needs Dentistry is Important
Many disabled and special needs adults report declining oral health because of a lack of proper dental care. These individuals find it hard to connect with dental professionals who may not possess the necessary training to provide quality dental care to people within the disabled/special needs population.
Dentists have the technical ability to provide dental care such as teeth cleaning and other procedures. What is often lacking is the training and knowledge associated with understanding and accommodating interactions with those who are disabled/special needs. Dental clients with autism, Down syndrome, or other developmental disabilities require different social interactions.
For example, some disabled and special needs patients struggle with sensory overload, which is vital to consider when providing dental care. Some patients have trouble with the sounds and smell associated with dental care. For example, the sound of the dental drill and the scent of the various treatments used during dental work make some disabled/special needs people extremely reactive.
While some patients will hear the dental drill and process their fear internally, other disabled/special needs clients react outwardly to what they see and hear. They process information differently. It’s critical to understand this to provide adequate dental care for all clients.
Providing Effective Dental Care to Special Needs Clients
Providing effective dental care to special needs clients requires adjusting interactions and applying strategic dentistry. Many disabled/special needs clients move around in the dentist’s chair. These movements make it difficult for the dentist to perform necessary oral care treatments.
From the dentist’s standpoint, providing quality dental care requires helping the patient to remain still long enough to provide effective treatments. Achieving this depends on the individual patient.
Some disabled/special needs clients require special accommodations for wheelchairs and other equipment. The use of special lifts or wheelchair recliners allows dentists to provide dental care without disrupting the patient. This is important, as some people experience anxiety when moving from their wheelchairs to the dentist’s chair to receive treatment.
In cases where the patient is fidgety because of physical, mental, or emotional factors, sedation is sometimes an option. Sedation dentistry is a viable solution for patients who are anxious or require special care when receiving dental treatment. It is available in several forms.
There is IV conscious sedation, where a sedative is administered directly to the bloodstream. This method allows the dentist to control the amount of sedative the patient receives to ensure sufficient sedation. This type of sedation is available from just a few dentists, including Dr. Gallardo, as IV conscious sedation requires specialized training and certifications.
Pill sedation requires the patient to take a pill before receiving dental treatment. The results of this type of sedation vary depending on the patient, and full sedation is not guaranteed.
Dentists often use oxygen sedation via nitrous oxide (also known as laughing gas). With this type of sedation, the patient retains full consciousness and bodily movement. The use of oxygen sedation lowers patient anxiety connected with dental procedures.
Computer-generated anesthesia delivers anesthesia via a tiny needle. The computer tracks the medication flow, allowing for precise administration of the anesthesia. The patient remains conscious without pain during the dental procedure.
Choosing the best sedation option for disabled/special needs patients requires understanding the specific patient. Highly active patients are better candidates for sedation methods that limit movement temporarily while the dentist provides dental care. Those patients that can restrain their movements with light anesthesia and sedation may find that pill and oxygen sedation or computer-generated anesthesia are adequate.
Ultimately, the goal is to create an environment where dentists can provide quality dental services to disabled/special needs patients in a manner that is non-invasive and accommodating.
Finding a Dentist for Special Needs Dental Clients
It is essential to seek out dentists who know how to provide quality dental care for disabled/special needs patients. Whether seeking wisdom teeth removal or routine dental cleaning, exploring and understanding the dental care needs of each disabled/special needs patient is vital for determining the best path forward. Some dentists can provide advanced dentistry options that make it possible to assist disabled/special needs clients who are likely not able to sit still or are unable to receive traditional dental care.
Seeking the assistance of an experienced, qualified dentist is essential when exploring dental care for disabled/special needs patients. Dr. Gallardo is an award-winning periodontist with over 25 years of specialized experience in providing oral surgery. He works diligently to offer tailored, comprehensive dental care with a focus on quality and safety.
Dr. Gallardo’s state-of-the-art dental facility in Miami provides access to exceptional dental technologies, ensuring that patients receive the best dental care possible. As one of the few providers of comprehensive sedation dentistry in South Florida, he is a trusted, experienced option for those seeking a qualified, understanding dentist for people with disabilities and special needs. For more information about Dr. Gallardo or to inquire about an appointment, contact 305-547-8687.