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Maintaining oral health care for the patients with special health care needs is challenging for the patients as well as parents. Therefore, finding the appropriate dentist for treatment of such children is important. The parent and the child should be able understand the need of dental treatment. Pedodontists are dentists for kids, as they provide care to all children- be it infants, toddlers, adolescents or children with disabilities- they have it all covered. They believe that all children — especially those with special needs — deserve quality dental care. Hence, they provide special needs dentistry that includes the parents as well in every step of their child’s dental services. Pediatric specialists are kind, caring and compassionate for the special needs child, and make them feel at home.

Children with special health care needs face difficulties in their daily routine activities due to disabilities, such asin carrying out various tasks, including maintaining oral health care. Managing such children in the dental office is adversely affected due to communication, social, physical, mental and medical barriers. Due to inability to maintain oral hygiene such children are more prone to dental caries, gingival and periodontal diseases as well as tooth fractures due to falls.

For most general dentists the behavior management and treatment of children with special health care needs is a tough task are thus unwilling to care for them. The reason for this could be that they have been inadequately prepared to manage such cases. Also, health care delivery systems for these children are complicated, have inadequate financing mechanisms, poorly integrated services, and a lack of quality standards.

Pedodontists have been adequately prepared for efficient management of these children and firmly believe in modifying their routine practice to make children with special needs feel comfortable. They aim at providing pediatric care that is easily transitional to adult oral health care. They form an oral health system that is accessible, affordable, and staffed by educated, efficient, trained providers and attendees to manage these patients with disabilities. They safely deliver individualized, compassionate, quality care that includes education, prevention, and treatment.

Pediatric dental care centers are designed keeping special health care need children in mind. They are accessible, stocked with lifts or wheelchairs, with adequate space which includes fun play areas for the child. Pedodontists are experts in providing quality care for these children and have various behavioral guidance techniques at their disposal for these patients to relieve their fear or anxiety, especially in situations when dental treatment could be painful. While there are many behavioral approaches, a pediatric dentist will always take into consideration the child’s dental needs, their emotional, intellectual maturity, and a parent’s preferences.

For the management of children of cooperative age (note: children less than three years of age lack cooperative ability) pediatric dentists follow for example, the “Tell,Show, Do” technique of behavior management in which as the child enters in the dental clinic, he or she is guided and explained for the dental procedure to be done using word substitutes called as  Euphemisms (for example- local anesthesia as sleeping water) after child is familiar with the official staff and environment. This is followed by showing the dental instruments to be used and then the dental procedure is done on the pediatric patient.  This technique in patients with special health care needs, for example, blind children is modified as “Touch,Feel,Do”.Parents of these children should be able to accompany them into the treatment area. The pedodontists explain oral hygiene instructions, brushing techniques and are made aware of electronic toothbrushes that are available for these children.

In case of requirement of extensive oral rehabilitation in uncooperative children with special needs(for example, patients with cerebral palsy), the pedodontists because of their expertise gained through additional training in conscious sedation and general anesthesia are able to manage such cases efficiently- as opposed to most general dentists.

The pedodontists spend a good amount of time bonding with the child and his family, thus ensuring that their little one has a bright and happy smile between visits and for the rest of his life.Therefore management of such children requires flexible dental practice with tender, love, care and full of understanding, and whatever are the child’s circumstances, they are treated as per the need of disability with particular emphasis on their individual needs.

Pediatric dentists aim at serving special needs children from before they even get their first tooth all the way up through their teenage years. No two children are the same. Instead of asking the patients to adapt to an unchanging structure of treatment, pedodontists strive to remain in positive attitude with full dedication for the treatment options by balancing the safety and emotional well-being of each patient with effective dental care. If the dentist is someone you trust, you can’t go wrong, for years to come.

By: Dr.Shikha

Senior lecturer,

Department of Pedodontics and Preventive Dentistry

FDS, SGT University, Gurugram.




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