Special Needs Dentistry
Specialized dental care for those with special needs
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Who We Treat
Apart from patients with disabilities or complex medical issues, the Blende Dental Group also specializes in treating patients with other unique circumstances that traditional dentists can’t support.
Some children need extensive treatment that requires sedation options or care from dentists with clinical skills that fall outside the scope of routine care. Our pediatric dentists specialize in working with children who require more attention and different approaches to treatment
Those with Eating Disorders
People with eating disorders, especially bulimia, often experience extensive enamel loss due to the corrosive nature of stomach acids.
Those with Drug Addictions
Chronic methamphetamine (crystal meth), ecstasy, and crank users live with extensive dental problems that eat away the roots of their teeth. Rapid treatment is key for dental care success.
Smokers may suffer from an increased rate of plaque and tartar buildup, loss of bone within the jaw, increased risk of gum disease, and oral cancer. Pulmonary insufficiency places them at risk for many forms of sedation.
Patients with Head and Neck Cancer
It’s imperative that patients with head and neck cancer receive dental treatment before they undergo radiation or chemotherapy. This dental treatment can help prevent many of the extremely detrimental effects of radiation/chemotherapy onto hard and soft tissue, mostly the jaws and salivary glands.
Patients Scheduled for Heart Surgery
Patients about to undergo heart surgery, especially on valves or coronary arteries, should be evaluated to determine if they have abscesses or significant dental decay that could seed bacteria to the surgical site, which increases the risk for bacterial endocarditis.
Patients with Dry Mouth
Dry mouth makes teeth vulnerable to decay and periodontal disease because they can’t produce enough saliva to wash away food and bacteria or to neutralize plaque. Dry mouth can be caused by more than 700 medications, including many of the most commonly prescribed, such as antihistamines, diuretics, pain killers, high blood pressure drugs and antidepressants. Approximately 20% to 30% of older adults suffer from this condition.
People with Gag Reflex
People who have a severe gag reflex often benefit from sedation, which can eliminate this involuntary reflex.
Those Allergic or Intolerant to Local Anesthetics
True allergies to dental anesthetics are rare, but some people simply can’t stay numb, or worse, can’t get numb. These patients usually have miserable dental visits, despite a dentist’s best attempts. Sedation can provide a solution to both allergies and intolerances.
Those with Position or Accommodation Concerns
Reclining in a traditional dental chair can be difficult, if not impossible, for some people with neck or spinal disorders. The airway can be compressed or compromised in people with wheelchair-bound disabilities, obesity or severe arthritis. These patients may need to be treated within the safety net of a hospital to protect their neck and airway.
Busy executives and others who need extensive or complex treatment that involves more than one specialist often want to have all their treatment done at one time.
Frequently Asked Questions
If you or a loved one has special needs but don’t feel you’re receiving the level of care your condition requires, you should be asking your provider some important questions. And if the answers don’t address the following points, you should get in touch with the Blende Dental Group today.
Do you partner with other dental specialists?
Not all general practitioner dentists perform procedures to address every need. For example, an endodontist specializes in root canals, while a periodontist treats diseases of the supporting tooth structures. Each dentist goes through very specific training and brings unique experience in his or her chosen field.
If the dentist works with other specialists, be sure to ask:
Do you coordinate the services of any required specialists you partner with?
If I need multiple procedures by different specialists, can you coordinate the procedures so that they can take place in one visit?
Do you use restraints such as “papoose boards” as a means for eliciting cooperation?
If the answer is “yes,” you or your loved one will likely have an uncomfortable, frightening, or problematic procedure. There are ways to elicit cooperation without physical restraints that promote safety, comfort, and trust.
How do you and your team handle children who may have trouble being cooperative?
The dentist’s answer should always indicate communication and comfort, not restraint or force. Dentists must be able to come down to the child’s level, work within his or her comfort zone, and take small steps to ensure that they feel a sense of accomplishment and ease.
Dentists should not force any treatment upon the children. If they are uncomfortable in the chair, they should be escorted back to their safe spaces. Even if nothing clinical is accomplished during a visit, positive experiences and trust should be built.
Will I get to be involved in my child’s treatment plan?
Parents of special needs children are essential decision makers and “consultants” in the process; they must never be excluded.
Look for dentists who strategize with parents before any action takes place to learn the child’s triggers, sensitivities, and methods of soothing.
Look for dentists who partner with parents to learn their tips and tricks for interacting with the child, and emulate those approaches during visits.
Dentists must maintain constant communication with parents to explore treatment options and determine the best approach for the child, taking into account all of their needs.
Do you routinely treat patients with conditions or circumstances similar to mine?
If the answer is “yes,” ask how often: daily, weekly, monthly, or only occasionally.
If you have dental anxiety or phobia, you’ll want to know that the dentist and his or her staff are accustomed to caring for patients with fears like yours. You need to have reassurance that this team knows how to work with you without making you feel embarrassed if you haven’t received treatment for quite some time.
For people with special needs, it’s important that the dentist you choose understands the complexities of your condition and has the skills to manage your treatment safely and appropriately.
If you’re choosing Sleep Dentistry, ask who administers the IV sedation—the dentist or an anesthesiologist.
When you receive any type of sedation, the medications must be administered by a trained and licensed professional. Only qualified and credentialed individuals can monitor the sedation level achieved, vital signs, and adverse effects while being equipped to handle any emergencies that arise.
Some general dentists have qualification permits to administer IV sedation. In that case, you’ll need to determine your comfort level for having the dentist monitor the results of your sedation while working on delicate tooth structures.
When an anesthesiologist is present, he or she is dedicated solely to monitoring your wellbeing as the dentist works.
What if my child can’t tolerate or physically visit the dental office?
Oral health is too important to delay or ignore. For children unable to visit offices, in-home care is always an option and should be encouraged.
Are Sedation and Sleep Dentistry options I should consider?
Absolutely. Regardless of age, those with special needs require a variety of treatment modalities for comfortable dental treatment including sedation options ranging from nitrous oxide gas and oral medications to general anesthesia administered by a physician anesthesiologist.