Pediatric dentistry in patients with disabilities

In the following article, the dental specialist Dr. Martín Sanjuán from LB Clínica Dental, explains pediatric dentistry in patients with disabilities.

What care is taken with a minor with a disability?

The care that a child with a disability should receive is no different from that of a child without a disability. Behavioral management is the most complicated with these patients. In the patient with a disability and non-cooperative it is essential that he/she is referred to a specialist dentist for periodic check-ups.

How is the patient treated depending on the type of disability?

The way the patient is treated depends on behavioral management. There are patients with disabilities and good collaboration that do not require special control. For example, we can include most patients with Down’s Syndrome. Patients with poor collaboration, most patients with severe autism spectrum disorders, for example, require large doses of patience and control of the situation on the part of professionals. In these cases we can help with pictograms.

How is fear of the dentist treated in these patients?

Fear of the dentist, dental phobia, is diagnosed and typified in psychiatric diagnostic manuals. So not only does it exist, but it provokes such panic that it incapacitates the patient for collaboration in a traditional dental cabinet. For these patients there are alternatives of dental treatment with sedation or general anesthesia.

Is it always necessary to require anesthesia or sedation?

Sedation or general anesthesia will only be necessary in those persons in whom all previous measures of the behavioral management scale have been ruled out. And this is because these treatments are not risk-free and therefore the indication must be the most appropriate and individualized for each specific case.

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Is there any type of disability that has consequences on children’s teeth?

There are multiple syndromes that can affect dental eruption as well as the morphology and composition of the teeth, causing delays in eruption, caries, periodontal disease, osseo-dental malformations and malpositions, maxillary compression, mandibular advancement, maxillary retardation, crowding, etc.

Are there any common pathologies in children with disabilities?

Caries and periodontal disease as well as malocclusions are common to most of these children and have to do, in addition to their genetic predisposition, with inadequate dental hygiene and a diet with refined sugars. So the good news is that most of these patients’ dental problems can be prevented with regular checkups at the pediatric dentist specialist, a diet free of refined sugars and proper dental hygiene.