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Cavities. A disease that affects a majority of Americans is easily fixed with a quick trip to a dentist's office. But how does a person with disabilities, who may be confined to a bed or wheelchair, have cavities filled or receive a dental exam? For the more than 50 million people with disabilities, oral health is among their most neglected needs.
"Unfortunately when physicians treat a child or an adult with a disability, dental care often has a lower priority in the face of other health problems," said Fred Margolis, DDS, past president of the Illinois Foundation of Dentistry for the Handicapped and staff dentist at a residential facility for the developmentally disabled. "Sometimes dentists are unfamiliar in treating persons with disabilities because many dental schools provide little training about caring for these patients."
"Yet, children with disabilities must visit the dentist regularly because they are very susceptible to dental disease," said Dr. Margolis. Genetic disorders or very high fevers can cause weakened enamel, which makes the enamel prone to cavity development. Gum disease and poorly aligned teeth are prevalent in children with Down syndrome.
Reviewed: January 2012
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