In 2017 a group of researchers dug into just how significant the value of specialized dental care for children with developmental challenges.

By specialized care, it isn’t simply to say that the routine of a special needs dental visit require compassion and care. The study points at what for many families ends up being the lack of care altogether — whether because the family cannot get the help they need or because they feel a reluctance about it.

According to the researchers, children with physical and cognitive development impairment are more likely to be uncooperative about at-home dental habits. Brushing and other hygiene can seem more difficult, and the children can fight doing it. Parents, understandably, sometimes feel concern that if these tasks at home are this challenging, then a dental visit would likely go poorly.

As a result, these children often go without dental visits until they are in pain because of tooth decay. At that point, they are in an even more intimidating situation of visiting a dentist they are not used to while scared and in pain.

The challenge here is made more so because research also shows special needs children are more likely to be on medications — with side effects that can negatively affect oral health.

While this research study dealt with specific procedures to restore a particular child’s oral health, its premise does drive home a larger point about the importance of dental offices prepared for special needs pediatric patients.

Pediatric dentists have a responsibility to train for these specialized forms of care, but also to make it known to their communities that help is available — and it’s easier than they may think.

If your child doesn’t have a regular pediatric dentist, we would love to meet them!

Study Citation:

Vignesh Ravindran, Rekha V, Annamalai S, Norouzi-Baghkomeh P, Sharmin D. A case report on dental management of a toddler with Pachygyria. J Clin Exp Dent. 2017 May 1;9(5):e726-e728. doi: 10.4317/jced.53684. PMID: 28512554; PMCID: PMC5429489.