If dental procedures need several dental visits to have them done completely or if dental appointments cannot be availed easily, how painful could the situation be for a physically challenged person! People with special needs are the subject matter for this article and this segment is inclusive of patients lacking normalcy of developmental as well as cognitive conditions. Individuals with autism, Alzheimer’s disease, Down syndrome, spinal cord injuries and numerous other conditions make standard dental procedures more than difficult.
According to the AAPD (American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry) special health care needs may be defined as “any physical, developmental, mental, sensory, behavioral, cognitive, or emotional impairment”. The condition may be congenital, developmental, or even acquired through unforeseen events like disease, trauma, an environmental cause etc. This imposes limitations on the individual in performing their day-to-day activities.
The AAPD also has recommendations on how to handle pediatric patients with special needs. Health care for such cases include an increased awareness and attention, adaptation, and effective measures that could be considered beyond the routine ones. Dealing with such patients therefore need a lot more than mere expertise. A compassionate and patient dealing capability coupled with helping assistants within the dentistry is a prior requirement for dealing with such cases.
In this post you will read through the unfortunate story of a kid in New York city whose mother had to run from pillar to post to get a RCT (Root Canal Therapy) done to her 15 year old daughter!
The child is presently in the 8th standard being a special needs child. Since birth, this girl was the sufferer of a rare condition named fucosidosis. It deteriorated the functionality of her brain day by day. Getting an X-ray done or a professional cleaning up of her teeth was extremely challenging. This was due to the need for more time and more hands to hold her arms and head in place.
The child’s mother used to take her out of school for the day and her husband would drive them to some place for a dental appointment. Unfortunately, they had taken her to at least eight dentists and root-canal specialists, with all of them declining to treat her. As the mother narrates, some did not even look at her teeth, let alone treating her!
So physical anomalies keep back many dentists from treating patients with disabilities. Traditionally, pediatric dentists (within their courses) are trained to treat patients with special needs, but the general dentists aren’t. Therefore adult people are at a greater chance of sufferance as far as getting a dental appointment is considered. Due to this, in 2006, a standard was set for these patients. The Commission on Dental Accreditation mandated all students to competently handle the special needs students. However the outcomes were less than satisfactory.
Therefore access still remains a formidable trouble for patients with such needs!
As a remedy to this a special wing of the NYU College of Dentistry has come up with new options for patients with disabilities. The norms have been regulated with respect to both adult and pediatric patients who have conditions like autism, cerebral palsy, dementia etc. There are separate rooms within the facility where patients can be sedated.
The NYU educates nearly 10 percent of the nation’s dentists, so that handling the volume of the physically challenges patients can be easily dealt with.
Roughly 915,000 people are living with a disability in New York City alone and that accounts for potentially a lot of untreated teeth!
Many disabled people in the New York city, according to survey reports, refrain from seeing dentists at all. This is because many offices are not wheelchair-accessible. This is however a violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act!
Another issue with the wheelchair-patients are that assistants usually have to help move them to a dental chair. For the patient himself too, this is a source of anxiety and therefore they generally tend to delay dental visits!
Addressing the case of special needs individuals is therefore an important aspect of modern dentistry. For instance when a Parkinson’s patient walks in with a dental trouble, an assistant is required to hold his head in place, another for retracting his tongue and yet another for suctioning, before the dentist performs his job. Thankfully however, in the recent years, the issue of dental care for physically challenged people has received a lot of effective attention from all the concerned authorities!
What else you need more. What do you think about your dental visit with special care needs? If you need so, then do not hesitate, make your dental care visit with special needs.