Dental issues such as toothaches, tooth decay, abscesses, gum disease, and cold sores affect many people, including those with special needs. Special oral care is the field of dentistry that focuses on people with special needs. People with special needs who require special oral care are diverse and may include people with physical disabilities, or sensory, medical, psychological, or emotional issues.
If you live with a person in need of special oral care, the information in this article will help you ensure their oral health is always prioritized.
Special Oral Care Tips
Here are some valuable tips for maintaining good dental health in people with special needs:
1. Maintain a healthy diet
Like other people, those with special needs require a well-balanced diet to maintain good oral health. Be sure the menu has plenty of vegetables and fruits. Include dairy products, as they are rich in calcium, which is essential for healthy teeth.
Limit the consumption of sugary snacks as these items promote the growth of harmful bacteria in the mouth. Avoid sugar-rich and acidic soft drinks, fruit juices, and energy drinks. If you consume any of these drinks, be sure to drink a glass of water afterward.
2. Provide fluoride
Fluoride is effective in strengthening tooth enamel, which enhances the tooth’s resistance to decay. Use fluoride-based toothpaste at least twice a day and drink plenty of fluoridated water. Your dentist may also advise other fluoride options, such as fluoride tablets, fluoride drops, or high dose fluoride toothpaste, rinses, or gels.
3. Maintain proper oral hygiene
Upholding proper oral hygiene helps to prevent the build-up of plaque on the surface of the teeth. It can be achieved by brushing at least twice a day and flossing at least once a day.
Brushing and Flossing Tips
Brushing and flossing can be challenging for people with special needs, though, so here are some tips to make things easier:
- If the person can’t hold or use a conventional toothbrush, try giving them an electric or battery-powered toothbrush. Consider attaching the toothbrush to their hand with the help of a wide elastic band. Be sure the band is not so tight that it limits circulation.
- If the person can’t grasp the toothbrush properly, consider thickening the handle. You can do that by inserting the handle into a rubber ball, a sponge, or a bicycle handle grip.
- If the person is having a hard time raising their hand, lengthening the handle of the toothbrush can make things easier for them. Attach something like a ruler, a wooden spoon, or a tongue depressor to the toothbrush handle.
- If the person can’t open their mouth properly, use a mouth prop. A sterilized rubber doorstop, a rolled-up damp washcloth, or three tongue depressors tied together make an excellent mouth prop.
When it comes to flossing, you can use a floss holder, an interdental brush, or other specialized cleaning tools.
If you have a person with special needs, these tips can help you maintain good oral health. It is also important to schedule regular dental visits for a check-up and professional care.