Dental Care at Home for Kids with Special Needs
The earlier you start care and involve your child to the best of his or her ability, the easier it is to get into a predictable oral healthcare routine. You can start when your child is a baby by brushing the first teeth to erupt with water. You can introduce toothpaste around age two, but if your child can’t spit it out, at least aim to clean the mouth with a damp cloth.
Check online for companies that sell adaptive oral health care equipment for kids as this will make both of your lives easier. If your child is very resistant to toothbrushing, experiment on yourself first to show there’s nothing to fear. If he or she does express fear, take it seriously while still demonstrating that caring for teeth is important and necessary.
Additional Resources for Parents
While caring for the oral health needs of a child with significant health, developmental, or behavioral concerns can be stressful and challenging, the good news is that several resources exist to help you. Some of these include:
- Teachers Pay Teachers, Special Education Toothbrushing: This is a free downloadable chart that lists the steps involved in teaching a child with special needs to brush his or her teeth.
- Colgate.com, Oral Conditions in Children with Special Needs: This articles discusses some of the specific oral health conditions common in children with special needs along with how to prevent, recognize, and treat them.
- Healthy Smiles for Autism: Click this link to take you to a free 36-page downloadable book that provides more than 30 pages of information about autism and oral healthcare.
- Special-ism: Teaching Basic Life Skills to Children with Special Needs: The author of this article discusses the importance of teaching your special needs child to independently perform as many life skills as possible, including dental care.
- Autism Speaks, Dental Tool Kit: Here you can download an entire kit on oral healthcare at home and best practices for visiting the dentist. Autism Speaks also presents a video on this page of a child on the autism spectrum going to the dentist.
Consider an Electric Toothbrush
A 2014 New York Times article quotes a survey given to parents of special needs children about the challenges of dental care. Many overwhelming expressed a preference for using an electric toothbrush to take advantage of the short window of cooperation they might gain from their child. Triple Bristle is here to make things easier for you by offering a unit with replaceable heads that gets teeth cleaner in one-third the time. It’s just one more tool you can reach for when helping your older child or teenager with special needs achieve the highest possible standard of oral health.