Parenting a special-needs child can be so challenging that dental care often becomes a low priority. You can probably relate to the endless medical appointments, behavioral concerns, and just plain exhaustion of caring for you child each day. According to the Academy of Pediatric Dentistry, a child is said to have special needs if he or she has chronic behavioral, developmental, emotional, or physical conditions that limit daily activities.
Several conditions require a different approach to dental care, including the following:
- Autism spectrum disorder
- Cerebral palsy
- Cleft lip or palate
- Developmental disorders
- Down syndrome
- Hearing impairments
- Neurological disorders
- Vision impairments
Some children with special health needs, such as those with genetic disorders or down syndrome, may experience significant delays with tooth eruption. It can be as long as two years in some cases. Children with special needs can also experience malformed, missing, or extra teeth as well as poor alignment and crowded teeth. These challenges can be difficult to treat when a child is uncooperative with dental care or dentists are unwilling to treat a child with special needs.
Children with behavioral challenges may grind their teeth habitually, resulting in a wearing away of the tooth enamel. Additionally, an impaired immune system can increase the risks of tooth decay and gum disease. Medications that cause dry mouth increase these risks as well.
The Challenge of Finding a Willing Dentist
Unfortunately, many dentists lack training in treating children with special needs and therefore refuse to take them as patients. Those who do may require that the child is heavily sedated during the appointment, which you as a parent might not want. For kids who thrive on routine, a visit to the dentist can be overwhelming and terrifying. Bright lights, loud noises, strangers looking in their mouth, and not really understanding why they are there can lead to a full-on meltdown. For parents who have experienced this too many times, avoiding the dentist altogether seems like a better solution.
If you know your child struggles with dental appointments, we encourage you to seek a dentist who specifically states that he or she has education and experience treating children with special needs. Some clinics may have a policy that allows you to visit with your child several times to get him or her accustomed to the experience. The staff tackles one thing at a time, such as showing your son or daughter equipment at one session and then briefly examining the mouth at the next. If you can find a clinic willing to do this, it’s your best bet for a positive experience.
Some Parents Have Turned to Using the Triple Bristle
We not only sell all the Triple Bristle products here on our website but we also sell the toothbrush and replacement bristles on Amazon. After selling on Amazon for a while now, we have received a lot of reviews from parents and caregivers who have incorporated the Triple Bristle into their daily routine not only for themselves but for their children. Although we do not recommend using the toothbrush on smaller mouths and young children, parents have definitely found some relief in using the Triple Bristle as a tool to help along the way.