Does your practice accommodate for the oral care of people with special needs?

Taking into consideration the care of the elderly or people with additional sensory, physical and intellectual needs can be difficult to navigate. Ensuring your staff can alleviate anxieties and increase comfort can go a long way in the care of your patients. Dental issues and difficulty with self care can be associated with many people with a disability and simply being aware of these can be of benefit to your patients and their carers.

There are so many issues to think of we have written some tips that may help.
    Here are some tips that may help in your practice:
    • When making appointments ask them to consider the best time of the day for them and keep appointments as short as possible, 
    • Consider the patients pain threshold, ability to sit still and muscle control including saliva flow, 
    • People with sensory or intellectual issues may need sedation,
    • Those who are aged or live with a physical disability may need additional assistance even getting into the room or dental chair,
    • Children with autism often benefit from having the same staff each visit,
    • Consider the sensory impact such as excess glare in the elderly (perhaps putting down the blinds), using a television for distraction, or turning it off if sensory overload is an issue,
    • Check if their hearing is impacted and if music is too loud, or if can they hear you,
    • Consider printing easy-to-read follow-on instructions for the carer of those with intellectual disabilities or picture images for children who may benefit, such as this PECS dental image card, 
    • Investigate using self ligating brackets which are easier to change, or clear aligners which can be cleaned more easily over braces and are less distracting for some, or braces for complicated cases or for those who may play with their clear aligner.
    • Encourage a brushing routine and timer due to dental complications, 
    • Remember that confidence and a good looking smile may be important to them too. 
    Another great resource of educational factsheets for people with Autism and Down Syndrome are shared here by the Special Care Dentistry Association

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    • Katrina Ginsburg