It is like an eclipse that casts a shadow on the mind. Parents of disabled children are so caught up in the condition troubling their child that dental problems seem unimportant. That the child is unable to express things clearly adds on to the misery. Disabled children present challenges that require special preparation before the dentist can provide acceptable care.

Home dental care

We begin with a few simple measures that parents can help a disabled child do at home to prevent dental decay and establish good oral hygiene.

1. Home dental care begins in infancy, the parents should gently cleanse the incisors daily with a soft cloth or infant toothbrush.

2. The horizontal scrub method is the best tooth brushing technique recommended and consists in gentle horizontal strokes on cheek, tongue and biting surfaces of all teeth. Electric toothbrushes have also been used effectively by disabled children. Although independent brushing is not contra indicated, unsupervised oral hygiene procedures in disabled children can have serious dental consequences.

3. A diet survey with the parent is made. Conditions associated with difficulty in swallowing, such as cerebral palsy, requires the patient to be on a pureed diet and these dietary modifications are noted. Particular emphasis is placed on the discontinuation of the nursing bottle by 12 months of age and cessation of at will breast feeding after teeth begin to erupt, to decrease the likelihood of nursing caries.

At the dental office

A disabled child is one who has a mental, physical, medical of social condition that interferes with his normal functioning. Some of the disabling conditions of children are mental retardation, cerebral palsy, autism, deafness, blindness, Down’s syndrome among others. Parental anxiety concerning the problems associated with a disabled child frequently delays dental care until significant oral disease has developed. The child requires dental treatment no matter how serious the disability is.

General anaesthesia for dental care: If a child requires extensive dental treatment and cooperation cannot be achieved by routine measures, the use of general anesthesia in a controlled atmosphere is recommended.

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