Children with developmental disabilities or challenges face many obstacles as do the professionals that teach and treat them. It can be quite difficult for a child with developmental challenges to understanding some of the medical or dental procedures they must endure and emotionally draining for you as a parent.
Some children act out and can put themselves and the medical or dental staff at risk, so many doctors and dentists refuse to treat them. We as dentists can take special classes in order to learn how to treat your children with developmental disabilities and challenges gently and effectively.
One option that we can utilize is to perform the dental procedures while your child is under general anesthesia. This ensures that a child that is prone to violence in an unfamiliar setting is completely safe to themselves and to others that are around him. A child that has a violent tantrum in the dental office runs the risk of breaking equipment and potentially harming himself or a member of the staff.
General anesthesia is recommended for those children that not only are unable to cooperate but are unable to comprehend the procedure at hand as well. Children that are in this category should be examined every one to three years whether there is any indication of dental problems or not.
Before beginning the exam under anesthesia, you should be made aware of the risks involved for your children and a consent form needs to be signed. All medical information pertaining to your child should be made available to the dental team. Postoperative care should also be explained to you and what you should expect when your child awakens.
The medical and dental needs have long been ignored for those children with developmental disabilities and challenges because of the difficulty involved in treating them. More dentists along with their staff are taking classes to learn more about specific conditions and how to address the special needs of these young patients. We in the dental profession have the opportunity to become well versed in problems that may arise and the solutions we can apply will be able to better meet the needs of children with developmental disabilities. Keeping the child and the members of our team safe, not letting the child become too frightened are all being addressed in continuing education for medical and dental professionals alike in order to further our knowledge and abilities to work with these very special children.
Everyone deserves the best care that is available and with the new education programs targeted for medical and dental professionals, children with special needs can be routinely treated so that more serious problems do not occur because of lack of early treatment. Not every dentist or doctor is suited for this delicate but work, but those that feel they can take on the challenge will find many resources that will allow them to properly treat and handle children that have developmental disabilities or challenges. In the end, they will find that the work with these children is rewarding and worth the extra time and effort taken in order to give them the treatment they need.
If you are a parent of a child with special needs, ask your dentist if they are equipped to handle those needs or for a referral to someone who does handle those needs.