If your child has developmental, emotional, behavioral, or physical disabilities, their medical care often is the top priority. While that’s certainly important, it’s also essential to remember that their oral health plays a role in their overall health and wellbeing. Since children with special needs are often more prone to dental problems, like tooth decay and gum disease, prevention is paramount. With this in mind, here are five tips pertaining to special needs dentistry!
Tip #1: Start at a Young Age
All too often, parents don’t start their child on an oral hygiene regimen until after their first tooth emerges. However, this can result in serious consequences on their oral health, especially if their teeth don’t come in “on time.” Instead of waiting, start wiping down your child’s teeth and gums with a clean, damp washcloth when they’re an infant. Not only will this prevent breast milk and formula from sitting on their gums, but it will also acclimate them to the sensation and routine.
Tip #2: Take It Slow
The transition from wiping down their gums with a washcloth to brushing their teeth with a toothbrush and toothpaste shouldn’t happen overnight. Be patient and take it slow. First, give them a child-sized toothbrush for them to “use” while you brush your own teeth. Eventually, you can dampen the bristles with water and use it to brush their teeth. From there, begin adding a mildly flavored toothpaste to the routine.
Tip #3: Get Creative
Even with a solid routine in place, your child may need a little extra motivation at times to brush and floss. Incorporating songs and fun videos are a great way to bring some fun to oral care. You can also say the ABCs, tell a story, or recite a nursery rhyme – anything that keeps your child calm and engaged.
Tip #4: Limit Cavity-Causing Foods & Drinks
A solid at-home oral hygiene routine is a large part of proper prevention, but so is the right diet. Foods and drinks that are high in sugar, like soda and candy, turn into enamel-eroding acid in your child’s mouth, leaving them significantly more vulnerable to tooth decay. So, keep products like these to a minimum.
Tip #5: Find the Right Dentist
According to the American Association of Pediatric Dentistry, your child should visit a dentist when their first tooth emerges or by their first birthday. This first appointment often brings about a lot of anxiety for parents, which is why finding the right dentist is of the utmost importance. Call around a few practices close by to learn about their experience and your child’s unique needs. They can also share tips for a smooth first visit, like filling out the paperwork online beforehand!
About the Practice
At Simply Dental & Orthodontics, we are proud to have three phenomenal dentists in-house, including a board-certified pediatric dentist! As a team, they are proud to offer children of all ages with gentle preventive and restorative dentistry. Whether it’s time for your child’s six-month checkup or they are struggling with a toothache, we’ll make the appropriate accommodations to ensure they get the enjoyable dental care they deserve. If you’d like to learn more about special needs dentistry or want to schedule an appointment, visit our website or give us a call at 508-358-6300.