What is oral hygiene?
What causes cavities?
Why is the special needs community more prone to cavities?
1. Due to certain medical conditions, many special needs individuals have to take different medications throughout the day. As many of these individuals cannot swallow pills, he or she takes her medication in a liquid form. These liquid medications have a lot of added sugar to make them taste good. Sugar can easily cause cavities if there is not proper oral hygiene.
2. Some medications that this population takes can cause them to have dry mouth. Saliva is actually one of the body’s natural fighters against cavities. Without enough saliva, it is easier for plaque and sugary substances to stick to teeth and cause cavities.
3. Many individuals with special needs will only eat certain foods- some will only tolerate carbohydrates like crackers and breads while others will love to indulge in sweeter snacks like cookies. These foods have high amounts of sugar in them and by having them every day, several times a day, it puts the individual at a high risk of developing cavities. This is a big problem for individuals on the Autism Spectrum who only tolerate certain foods and even use certain high sugar snacks for rewards. The constant eating of the high sugar foods makes them at risk of developing cavities.
4. Difficult to brush- for many individuals with special needs, they might not have the abilities to brush on their own with traditional toothbrushes. Additionally, the parent or caregiver might not be able to brush due to physical constraints or behavior concerns.
5. An individual might be experiencing pain or discomfort with a tooth and be unable to voice the problem which leads to a small cavity growing to a more severe one.
6. The special needs individual might have cavities that the parents or caregiver can identify, however he or she is unable to find a dentist who is able to handle the individual’s special health care needs.
The Care Giver’s Role
Oral hygiene in individuals with disabilities is especially important because of their lack of ability to take care of their own teeth. For example, cerebral palsy is a disorder of muscle movement, and muscle tone. These individuals have impaired movement and exaggerated reflexes. The caregiver becomes a pivotal part in their oral hygiene. With brushing and regular visits to the dentist, the majority of dental problems can be completely prevented. You as the caregiver can learn simple ways to modify brushing with different tools, instruments, and positioning. Just simply brushing can help prevent so many problems. The same is true for taking your special needs client to the dentist. Using this website, you can find the right dentists that have the best knowledge and skills to care for your child’s or client’s needs. You can help prevent cavities and other dental problems, saving your client unnecessary pain and stress.