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Dentistry and Special Care Needs

Aug 17, 2007
There is a unique branch of dentistry that is devoted to persons who have special needs. These persons may have a learning disability, a physical disease, a chronic condition, a mental illness or may not have access to good dental care (the homeless, those who abuse chemical substances or vagrants). People in these groups may have difficulty finding quality dental care for many reasons. Sometimes it is a physical barrier that keeps them from the dentist; like unable to climb outside stairs, not having dental clinics that are suitable to their needs in their neighborhoods, or dentists who are unwilling to care for them because of prejudiced attitudes.

The barrier at times can be the person himself or herself and their inability to understand the need for dental care or what is being done during procedures. Sometimes all they need is to be able to overcome anxiety associated with dental care. They may need more than patience and explanations; they may need sedation during procedures in order to be able to cope with having dental care performed. Sometimes anesthesia is required if the patient has uncontrolled bodily movements or have an inability to comprehend the proceedings and may become overly distraught or combative. General anesthesia should only be used when absolutely necessary due to the risk that anesthesia carries with it. Facilities designed to offer general anesthesia are also limited and not available in all areas.

The dentists who treat patients with special needs are going to have to address some special issues. These issues revolve around medical, consent, and equipment or product needs. Dentists who care for patients with special needs also need to have staff willing to be compassionate, and understanding of these very special patients.

Dental visits may require extra time for special needs because of equipment or for the time involved in explaining, soothing or assessing the ability of the patient to give legal permission to complete dental work. If the patient is unable to understand what the dental proceedings are about, a relative or legal guardian may need to be present that can act on the patients behalf.

Those in need of special care dentistry can find them in general dental practices, dental care given by health boards or dental clinics and dental hospitals. Not only do patients with special needs require at times special facilities or equipment; they also need dentists with compassion and the ability to understand the unique needs of their dental patients with special needs. Unfortunately parents or caregivers of young children with special needs may experience greater difficulty in finding appropriate dental care due to the nature of the specialty and special needs of children in general.

Adults and children with special needs still require the same kind of quality dental health care as those of us without special physical or mental needs.

Those who are searching for special care dentistry can ask for referrals from local dentists, their primary care physician or look in the phone book under special care dentistry. You may be able to locate special care dentistry registries online by searching using Google or other search engines. Websites such as "Hands On Health" South Carolina is just one such Special Care Dentistry Directory, where dentists can register as being providers for special needs patients.
About the Author
Written by Cathy Warschaw, Director of the Warschaw Learning Institute providing training for dental offices, dentists, dental assistants, hygienists, office managers and newbies to the dental field. Interested in low-cost dental insurance visit
http://www.WarschawLearningInstitute.com
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