Dental Care and Disabled Individuals

Dental care and disabled individuals is an often overlooked necessity. This is surprising, since 15% of the world’s population has one form of disability. Around 110 and 190 million people have functional difficulties. These rates are rising globally as the life expectancy of children with disabilities is rising as well as a growing prevalence and incidence of long term health conditions. 

The WHO set global oral health goals to be achieved by 2020, with emphasis on disabled individuals. This is vital as people with disabilities suffer more with oral disease. Disabled individuals are overlooked when it comes to dental care. 

Dental care for disabled individuals isn’t complex and can be provide in primary care and community settings by professionals in a competent manner. Tooth decay is common in disabled individuals who gave developmental delays.  

Periodontal gum disease is common among younger people with developmental disabilities. Brushing and flossing may be an obstacle. 

Malocclusion occurs in people with developmental disabilities, causing difficulty with speaking and chewing and increase risk of gum disease and oral trauma. 

Damaging oral habits such as grinding teeth, holding food, mouth breathing and tongue thrusting is a problem with developmental disabilities. 

Oral malformations may cause enamel defects, high lip lines with dry gums and variations in size, number and shape of teeth. 

Delayed tooth eruption may occur in children with developmental disabilities such as Down Syndrome. A first tooth may only appear at age 2.

Injury and trauma to the mouth caused by falls may occur in people with seizure disorders or cerebral palsy.

Oral care isn’t always easy, but you can make it work for you and the person you help. 

Brush daily, caregivers will have to help the disabled individual. Toothbrushes can also be modified so that the person can brush his own teeth. 

Flossing is very important too. People with disabilities will struggle with flossing and a caregiver would need to help or purchase floss holders or floss picks. 

Visit a dentist regularly. Professional cleaning is vital part of good oral health. It may take time for the person you care for to become comfortable at the dental office. A visit with no treatment provided to a dental office may ease the fear and anxiety for the real appointment.

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