Millions of people are diagnosed with different disabilities throughout the world. Suffering from mental disabilities to suffering from physical disabilities the impact on the life of the person is devastating. However, the importance of the dental health of people with special needs is not always thought of.
The blind, deaf, dumb, people in a wheelchair, Alzheimer’s, people diagnosed with various syndromes like downs syndrome, handicapped, other developmental disorders, etc also deserve access to good quality dental treatment and care.
The dental health tips for people with special needs
Improper oral hygiene
Some people with impaired mobility are not able to brush their teeth properly. They fail to reach the intricate areas in the mouth and the brush does not reach the teeth behind. Due to this the plaque and bacteria remain in the mouth and cause gum infections and tooth cavities.
Failure to maintain good oral hygiene in such patients increases the risk of tooth decay. Patients with mental disorders may not swallow their food and keep it in their mouth for long. The bacteria ferment the food and release acids causing tooth decay.
Such patients can use motorized toothbrushes and water jet flosses which is much easier to use and maintain good oral hygiene. Some brushed even have specially designed handgrips which makes it easier to hold the toothbrush.
Disorders of the bone
Calcium deficiency can cause the bones and teeth to become brittle and soft making them more susceptible to fracture. Accidental fall on the face may also cause the jaw bones and teeth to fracture.
The people with disabilities right from their birth called developmental disorders can affect the jaw bone as well. Developmental disorders can also affect tooth size, tooth quality, the growing tooth buds, etc. causing the teeth to develop in a haphazard manner.
Maintaining oral hygiene becomes tedious when the teeth are malaligned. More plaque and bacteria tend to accumulate between the teeth. Malaligned teeth also make chewing and speaking difficult. It also increases the risk of gum infections.
Disabled patients often tend to adopt damaging habits like teeth grinding, teeth clenching, tongue biting, nail-biting, mouth breathing. Mouth breathing is very common in patients suffering from developmental disorders. Mouth breathing causes the mouth to become dry which makes it more prone to tooth cavities.
Some disabled people might be able to brush their teeth but some may not. Due to this along with other factors the person may be more prone to bacterial, fungal or viral infections of the mouth. Frequent ulcers in the mouth are also common.
Maintaining a healthy diet in such patients can be a challenge since such patients are very moody throwing tantrums. iron deficiency, vitamin c deficiency causing scurvy, calcium deficiency causing brittle bones and teeth making them more prone to fracture, etc. Hence maintaining a good diet for them is very important.
Taking care of people with special needs
Handling the disabled requires a lot of patience and skills. Taking care of them requires love care and your time. It takes planning and also your skill to manage their behavioral problems. But, patience is the key. Caretakers and family members also need to take care and support the physically disabled person to manage their oral health on a regular basis.
Brushing regularly as caretakers or family members brushing the teeth of the disabled people using the right technique and flossing for them should be done on a regular basis. you can either use a motorized toothbrush with a good hand-grip.
Water jet floss
Water jet floss is another easy way to clean the teeth of the disabled. the high water jet spray flushes out the remained food particles stuck between the teeth that are not able to come out with the regular brushing.
Maintaining a healthy diet
Keeping sugary snacks to a minimum helps reduce the risk of tooth decay. Fruit juices, plenty of fibrous food, salads and vegetables should be included in the diet. Take dietary control into consideration to avoid other diseases like diabetes, thyroid, high blood pressure, etc.
Fixed treatment options
Disabled people should be given fixed options for replacing teeth. Crowns, bridges and other prostheses might be swallowed without their notice.
People with neuromuscular disorders might not be able to handle their dentures properly and keep dropping and breaking them. Alzheimer patients might keep forgetting the dentures every now and then. Fixed options like implant-supported dentures should be considered as an option.
Plenty of water
Drinking plenty of water helps in flushing out all the food and bacteria from sticking to the tooth surfaces and it reduces the risk of developing tooth cavities and gum infections.
Regular dental visits
In order to avoid further problems in maintaining the dental health of people with special needs, regular dental visits are necessary.