High-fiving a patient

Special Needs Dentistry

What Is Special Needs Dentistry?

Special needs dentistry is a branch of dentistry that specializes in the dental treatment of patients with physical or mental disabilities or impairments. The dental treatment is adapted to the patient’s mobility, tolerance to sounds and lights, and other limitations.

What to Expect at Your Child’s Exam

When a special needs patient comes in, the staff needs to be prepared for receiving them and to ensure they are comfortable and safe. Prior to the appointment, you have to specify the disability of the patient, what kind of environment they would need, and what time interval is compatible with their routine.

The dentist team will talk to the caregiver and the patient (if possible) and ask about their medical history, specific needs, and treatment plan.

A dentist showing her patient's x-rayA patient and her parents

Care Strategies for Patients with Special Needs

When it comes to special needs patients, the medical staff needs to create a personalized treatment plan and care strategy, considering all the important factors.

A patient and her doctor

Establish a Dental Home

Establishing a dental home means that the patient will have an ongoing relationship with the dental specialist, who is able to monitor the evolution and progress of treatment. When being treated by the same team every time, the patient builds up trust and is much more comfortable when receiving future treatments.

Dental appointment

Provide Comprehensive Dental History

During the initial visit, but also for recurring ones, the doctor needs to be aware of all the details concerning the patient’s dental history. Further investigations are ordered if needed, but a thorough look at the previous treatments helps a lot in establishing what works and where to go from there.

Doctor listing down details

Explore Behavior Guidance

Behavior guidance techniques (BGT) are very important in the dental care of special needs patients (SNP). The doctor will take into account several factors, including cognitive age, developmental skills, communication skills, emotional reactions, and coping behaviors. The treatment will be adapted to fit these elements.

Dental anesthesia

Explore Sedation Options

For many special needs patients, sedation dentistry can be the only way of getting treatment. Sedation options will depend on the health state of the patient and the complexity of the procedure.

A dental doctor and her patient's family

Establish an Individualized At-Home Oral Care Routine

Preventive dental care means a lot in the treatment of a special needs patient. The doctor will create a personal dental care routine for home.

Dental doctor comforting her patient

Consider Diet in Terms of Oral Health

Also part of preventive dental care, an adequate diet will be suggested, with consideration for the patient’s special needs.

Care Strategies for Patients with Special Needs

A patient and her doctor

Establish a Dental Home

Establishing a dental home means that the patient will have an ongoing relationship with the dental specialist, who is able to monitor the evolution and progress of treatment. When being treated by the same team every time, the patient builds up trust and is much more comfortable when receiving future treatments.

Dental appointment

Provide Comprehensive Dental History

During the initial visit, but also for recurring ones, the doctor needs to be aware of all the details concerning the patient’s dental history. Further investigations are ordered if needed, but a thorough look at the previous treatments helps a lot in establishing what works and where to go from there.

Doctor listing down details

Explore Behavior Guidance

Behavior guidance techniques (BGT) are very important in the dental care of special needs patients (SNP). The doctor will take into account several factors, including cognitive age, developmental skills, communication skills, emotional reactions, and coping behaviors. The treatment will be adapted to fit these elements.

Dental anesthesia

Explore Sedation Options

For many special needs patients, sedation dentistry can be the only way of getting treatment. Sedation options will depend on the health state of the patient and the complexity of the procedure.

A dental doctor and her patient's family

Establish an Individualized At-Home Oral Care Routine

Preventive dental care means a lot in the treatment of a special needs patient. The doctor will create a personal dental care routine for home.

Dental doctor comforting her patient

Consider Diet in Terms of Oral Health

Also part of preventive dental care, an adequate diet will be suggested, with consideration for the patient’s special needs.

A man typing on a laptop

Get in Touch

If you need dental care for a special needs patient, please contact South OC Pediatric Dentistry & Orthodontics. Our specialists will guide you through the process.

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Such a nice place, the office is spacious and welcoming, my kid felt relaxed here. Doctors are knowledgeable, friendly, and attentive to details, they made us feel comfortable and cared for.

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My kids really look forward to their dental visits with Dr. John and his wonderful team. There isn’t one thing I would change about the people or the environment at this dental office.

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