There are distinct challenges in maintaining good oral care among dental patients with special needs that merit specialized attention and reinforcement. Since many of these patients rely on someone else for their dental hygiene, it is easy for caregivers to become complacent in light of other, seemingly more pressing matters. In fact, dental hygiene is closely linked to overall wellbeing and holistic health which makes it vital to not only tend to hygiene for children with special needs, but to increase efforts when the patient wears braces.
Some things to consider when it comes to children with special needs that wear braces are:
Communication is Key
It can help for the provider to communicate exactly what they will be doing and how long it will take. This can help patients who struggle with focus or attention, and alleviate anxiety, if possible. It is also important for caregivers to hear what the orthodontist says and recommends, since many patients require assistance or support in their daily hygiene practices when wearing orthodontic equipment. Braces require extra care and attention; if the patient and caregiver are unable to commit to this maintenance, it may be best to consider other options and alternatives.
Consider Co-occurring Conditions
Poor oral health and dental care could contribute to other serious medical issues. Many people with special needs may have co-occurring problems, like heart conditions, that can become worse with poor dental hygiene.
Kids with special needs often struggle with anxiety, especially surrounding new situations or those that they perceive as scary. It is integral to first develop a rapport with them before attempting to evaluate their mouth or having an expectation of cooperation. Work with an orthodontist that understands this and that is willing to work on establishing trust before examining or outfitting them with any equipment or aligners.
It Can Be Challenging
Conventional orthodontic treatment usually commands equipment such as metal wires and brackets. Many patients with special needs will have difficulty adapting to these and find them hard to leave alone. Wearing uncomfortable braces could cause increased anxiety and some may attempt to remove the orthodontic equipment on their own.
Removeable Aligners Can Help Hygiene
Surprisingly, clear aligners can help patients with disabilities or special needs improve dental hygiene, while also straightening their teeth. The ability to remove the liners may also cut down on the tartar and plaque that accumulates, making oral hygiene more effective and long-lasting when wearing aligners. These buffers may also curb damage or discomfort caused by patients who grind their teeth.
Equipment Can Impede Speech
If the patient has speech issues or difficulties, wearing conventional orthodontic equipment, like braces, can exacerbate this and make it more challenging to articulate what they want to say. Orthodontic expanders can significantly impact speech clarity, so discuss alternative solutions with your orthodontist, if possible.
Patients can rely on the trusted providers at Reese Orthodontics for all their orthodontic needs. Our team will work to establish a trusting relationship and provide top-notch care for any patient, including those with special needs.