Penn Doctors and Special Needs Dentistry: What You Should Know

Thursday, October 1, 2015
Penn Doctors and Special Needs Dentistry: What You Should Know

Why Penn Doctors at Penn Dental Family Practice are the best choice for all your special care dentistry needs.

If you or a loved one has special needs, be they physical, developmental, behavioral, or cognitive, you know that it can often be difficult to find a physician who is willing and able to provide the best possible care. Patients with special needs often face unique obstacles in all areas of healthcare, but especially in dental care.

Since we understand the importance of proper oral healthcare for all patients, Penn Doctors want to make sure that you have all the information before choosing a provider for special care dentistry. At Penn Dental Family Practice, we know that healthy teeth are crucial to living a healthy life, and we want to make sure that all individuals have access to the care they need.

Caring for Patients with Special Needs: What does that mean?

The Special Care Dentistry Association defines “Special Care Dentistry” as “that branch of dentistry that provides oral care services for people with physical, medical, developmental, or cognitive conditions which limit their ability to receive routine dental care.“ This may include those who:

  • Have diseases that cause complications in oral health care, or which require special precautions
  • Have congenital tooth, gum, jaw, palate, or lip conditions
  • Have difficulty communicating
  • Have cognitive, developmental, or emotional disabilities that require special soothing techniques in new or stressful situations
  • Have physical needs that require special assistance devices or supports
  • Face sensory disorders which may make textures, flavors, sounds, lights, or smells associated with oral health care intolerable

Why is it important to have a doctor who specializes in special care dentistry?

Along with basic needs like oral hygiene and maintenance, those with special needs often face other challenges that someone without those needs might not even think about. Penn Doctors who specialize in pediatric dentistry are trained to deal with these challenges and concerns, and can help you or your loved one to receive the best possible care.

What should I be looking for in a special care dentist?

There are several important factors that go into special care dentistry. It’s important to look for a dentist and office that can take care of those special needs. Things to look for include:

  • A dentist trained in handling patients who may have difficulty sitting still or enduring dental procedures.
  • A dentist who is compassionate towards those with special needs.
  • A dentist trained in communication with those who have special needs, and who is willing to take the time to find a communication plan that works for each individual patient.
    • One of the biggest challenges facing those with special needs is communication. A physician should be trained in multiple methods of communication, and be able to deliver information in a way that is appropriate to the patient’s cognitive and emotional developmental stage.
  • A dentist who works in an accessible office, and who can provide assistance for those with special physical disabilities.
  • A dentist who is trained to look for signs of abuse and neglect.
    • Those with special needs are often at higher risk for abuse. Special needs dentists should be trained in looking for signs of abuse and neglect.
  • An office that treats children and adults, and has specialists in pediatric and general dentistry.
    • Some pediatric offices or hospitals “age out” individuals with special needs who are no longer minors, even if those individuals’ needs would still be better met by a pediatric dentist. An office that treats adult patients as well as juveniles can accommodate the continued need for a pediatric dentist’s expertise in treating individuals with special needs.
  • A dentist who works with a team of specialists, so that if he doesn’t have expertise in what you need, someone on his team does.
  • A dentist who can understand the challenges of sensory disorders, as well as physical disabilities, and provide alternative options for those who can’t use traditional tooth and gum care and hygiene methods.

What can Penn Doctors do for you or your loved one?

Penn Doctors are dedicated to providing the finest care, and accommodating the needs of every patient. Our offices have doctors who specialize in pediatric and general dentistry, meaning our patients never “age out” of our care. We strive to serve with compassion, and communicate with patients and caregivers so that you have all the information you need. Are you ready to schedule a consultation for you or a loved one? Call for an appointment at 215-898-PDFP (7337).