Oral Care Often Not a Priority among Population
San Francisco, CA -- (SBWIRE) -- 10/15/2012 -- Dentists say children with special needs are the highest risk population for dental disease.
Owing to their children’s more serious health concerns, parents of special needs kids tend to make oral care less of a priority, they say.
Complicating the matter, children with mental, physical, or developmental disabilities often do not understand the need for preventative dental care, which can result in poor dental health, say dentists.
Depending on the condition, the dental issues vary, says Dr. Dina Debaybo, a dentist at the Paediatric Dentistry Centre in Dubai in an interview with Gulf News. Mental afflictions such as autism, cerebral palsy, and Down syndrome, among others, are the kind of conditions that create such issues.
“Some conditions affect the way teeth and oral structures grow,” she said. “Others can result in an inability to produce saliva which is necessary to clear food and protect teeth; brush teeth without help; and chew solid food that stimulates teeth, gums, and muscles of the mouth. Some kids who do not know how to chew or cannot chew, hold food in the mouth for long periods. This condition, known as food pouching, increases the likelihood of tooth decay.”
Dental conditions among the special needs population can include bruxism, or grinding of the teeth. Dry mouth, which can lead to tooth decay, mouth infections, gum disease and bad breath, is also a heightened problem, said Dr Maximilian Riewer, general dentist at Dubai Sky Clinic.
He told Gulf News, “In most cases the medication - often liquid syrups and medicines with sugar to help manage the child’s condition for seizure control, sedation, etc, is the main cause of caries [dental cavities]. Medications can also disturb tooth formation causing tooth defects. Patient care has to be tailored to the condition because dental hygiene is important for overall health.”
Also speaking to Gulf News, Dr. Mark Roseman, director of Advanced Paediatric Dental Education, Nicolas & Asp University College, Dubai Healthcare City, discussed other dental conditions common among children with special needs.
“Generally speaking special needs children like those with oral clefts and Down syndrome have tooth anomalies - missing, extra, or malformed teeth. Developmental disabilities can result in malocclusion - a poor fit between the upper and lower teeth. There can also be defects in the form of pits, lines, or discolouration in the teeth,” he said.? Emphasizing the need for good oral health care, he urged parents to rinse a child’s mouth after administering medication.
“A parent should schedule regular dentist visits preferably every six months,” he said. “Due to the disabling medical conditions or mental or psychological limitations, the parent should provide the child’s full medical history with details on current medications to decrease the risk of aggravating the medical condition. Parents should also ensure brushing and flossing before bedtime. If the child is unable to spit, parents should use a fluoride-free toothpaste.”
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