Orthodontic care for patients with special needs
All patients are special, but some are more special than others. Providing a high level of orthodontic care for patients with special needs requires a different approach than usual.
It requires a compassionate appreciation of the patient and their circumstances and a personalized plan to address those extra needs while providing the same quality care every patient expects from their orthodontist.
The challenges faced by patients with special needs can be physical, mental or a mixture of both. As medical professionals, it’s our responsibility to fully understand the situation and come up with a regimen that can improve oral health and treat any dental issues.
Challenges associated with special needs patients include difficulties in understanding, communication and awareness. There can also be physical difficulties that makes traditional dental examinations and procedures very difficult and sometimes impossible.
Some disabilities also bring with them specific dental issues such as delayed eruptions of teeth or malformed teeth in those with Down’s Syndrome. Other syndromes and disabilities have their own oral health challenges too.
The American Association of Orthodontists (AAO) has worked hard to provide training and advice to dentists who want to work with special needs patients. This work is now paying dividends as more and more dentists are better trained to deal with the very particular requirements of these patients.
Straighter teeth have an obvious benefit for confidence and wellbeing but also help reduce saliva production and the risk of choking. That is just one example of where an orthodontic device can have far-reaching benefits.
Alternatively, patients with Asperger’s or autism find it difficult to leave aligners alone, so special fixed braces may be the answer. These patients also need special attention when it comes to noise, distraction and tactile surroundings as they can be very sensitive to them. A trained orthodontist will to provide such a place. A place where the patient feels safe and relaxed and ready to enjoy the experience.
The advantage of advanced orthodontic training in caring for patients with special needs is that we can identify the particular requirements of the patient and design an effective treatment plan that takes those requirements into account. We have the skills and the flexibility to ensure each patient receives the highest possible quality of care regardless of their needs or limitations.