Special Needs Population & Dental Care Barriers

Giving dental care and making it achievable for people with special needs is both challenging and necessary for most dentists. Traditional ways of providing dental care to patients doesn’t work for people with a physical disability, medical complications, developmental problems, and cognitive impairments. One patient can opt for more than one type of disability and certain equipment or medical service is required to render the dental care that they need. Emergency 24 hour dentist is now more aware and willing to prepare to accommodate these patients no matter what their case might be.

Treatments and oral care procedures with special needs patients vary and are definitely different from the usual patients. Like mentioned earlier, different cases require certain modifications from the oral health care treatment plan. There are many challenges in taking care of their dental health as most of these patients experience difficulty in movement and control over their hands or fingers. The access to a dentist is oftentimes the only way that they could get professional cleaning and dental care treatment. People with special needs are more prone to tooth decay and gum diseases contributed by their inability to take care of themselves.

Listed below are the common bumps and challenges that special needs patient’s face on dental care access.

Language Barrier. Special needs patients with developmental conditions or with cognitive challenges have difficulty in speaking making it hard for the dentist to communicate with them. Care givers and family members play a big role in interpreting and making the dental visit a positive experience. Dentists have to find ways to communicate with the special needs of their patient. This is to make them familiar with the procedure and relaxed throughout the treatment.

Sensory Impairment.  People who have sensory impairments like blindness find it hard to trust and increase anxiety. It usually becomes the reason that special needs patients do not seek dental care. This explains why dentists should build every patient’s confidence prior to the treatment. This makes the dental treatment comfortable and less scary for them.

Psychosocial Issues and Bad experiences. Dental anxiety is very common and people with special needs also experience it. Bad experiences and associating dental visits to these bad memories often make these patients ignore or neglect dental care treatments.

Wheelchair Accessibility. Some dental facilities or dental offices don’t have wheelchair accessibility. Ramps are needed for people with amputated limbs, broken bones, and other medical conditions that use wheelchairs. The lack of wheelchair accessible dental offices also contributes to the increasing number of special needs patients that suffer from dental problems.

There are plenty of ways wherein patients could improve their oral hygiene other than dental visits. This way, they can prevent or avoid serious dental problems through their daily efforts.  Dentists can provide self care tips and strategies like showing the patient or the caregivers how to perform specific dental regimen like brushing and flossing. Special needs patients can also adapt toothbrush handles to make use a much easier. Power tooth brushes are very helpful aids in dental care. Hopefully, the patients with special needs would feel less anxious on dental visits, to help them get the dental care that they need and deserve.