Types of Treatment

Here is just a basic overview of the different types of treatment options that exist for your loved ones and what to consider for individuals with special needs.


Two Types of Restorations:

There are two materials that are mainly used for when cavities are removed and restorations are placed.

  1. Composite/White Restorations: The cavity is removed and a white filling material is placed. This material is the most esthetic and is the same color as the tooth. The main concern with this type of material is that during the procedure, the patient has to be very still and no water or saliva can touch the material while it is placed. It requires an absolutely dry tooth to essentially attach to. For many individuals with special needs, it is really difficult for them to stay still for the time required for this type of restoration.
  2. Amalgam/ Silver Restorations: The cavity is removed and a silver filling material is placed.  This type of restoration is much faster to apply to the tooth than the composite material and does not require a dry area. For those reasons, it is usually the material of choice for restorations for the special needs community.

Two Types of Crowns:

Crowns are used when the tooth has a large cavity or needs a root canal treatment.

  1. Stainless Steel Crowns/Silver Crowns: Silver crowns, while not the most esthetic crown, is the easiest and fastest crown choice for individuals with special needs. These crowns are actually made out of stainless steel and come in different sizes that the dentist is able to adapt to fit the tooth.  The tooth is prepped to fit the crown and then once the correct size is found, the crown is cemented onto the tooth. All of this is done in one visit.
  2. White Crowns/Porcelain Crowns: these crowns are more esthetic and are tooth colored. However, they require a lot more chair time that might not be an option for someone with special needs. First the tooth is prepped and then an impression is taken of the tooth. That impression is sent to the lab and a few weeks after that the patient returns to try on the crown made by the lab. Once it fits perfectly, the crown is cemented onto the tooth. In total this takes 2-3 visits.


If your loved one is missing teeth, you might consider having them get dentures.  Dentures are a removable replacement set of teeth that the individual can use for esthetics and for eating. Not all individuals with special needs are candidates for dentures as they actually can make eating harder for them, are quite uncomfortable until they are able to be adjusted perfectly, and can also be a swallowing risk.  Additionally, dentures can be food traps so if brushing and proper oral hygiene is difficult with your loved one, they probably are not the best candidates for dentures. Talk to your dentist and they will help you decide if your loved one would be the right candidate for dentures.