Providing oral health education to families is essential to teaching children healthy habits and preventing early childhood tooth decay.
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"Increased dental decay is commonplace because many medications have a high sucrose content," said Dr. Margolis. Some children with disabilities are also restricted to soft diets and do not have the abrasive particles to help remove food and plaque.
Although children and adults may have a disability or a disabling condition, they can still take care of their teeth or rely on their family members for assistance, said Dr. Margolis. A dentist or dental hygienist can teach family members how to properly brush and floss a special patient's teeth.
"Family members should also speak to their dentist about the special devices available for brushing and flossing teeth," said Dr. Margolis. Certain mouthrinses can be prescribed for the patient that will increase saliva flow and reduce plaque build-up.
Although dentists specially trained in providing dental care for persons with disabilities are sometimes hard to locate, family members have choices to finding dental care. Check with a primary care provider, local hospitals with on-staff dentists or contact a local dental society about mobile dentistry services, advises Dr. Margolis. Family members who have a child in a center for the developmentally disabled should inquire about on-site dental care or access to a mobile dentistry service.
Reviewed: January 2012
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