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Patients with special needs are often at greater risk for tooth decay and diseases. They usually require specific services or additional care to receive dental treatment and maintain good oral health. It can be challenging to find a dentist who understands each patient’s unique needs and can provide comprehensive care.

Massanutten Dental is proud to offer special needs dentistry services tailored to each patient’s specific needs. Our pediatric dentist in Harrisonburg also has specialized training to provide oral health care for infants, children, and adolescents with special healthcare needs. In addition, our dental office is committed to providing quality care in a compassionate, comfortable environment where patients with special needs can feel safe and at ease.

We understand that every person is different, so we offer various services to meet each patient’s individual needs. Contact us today to schedule an appointment!

What is special needs dentistry, and why is it necessary?

Special needs dentistry specializes in caring for patients with unique needs. Patients with special needs may have physical disabilities, medical conditions, intellectual and developmental disabilities, or cognitive conditions that require special consideration when receiving dental treatment. This can include people with a medical condition like cardiovascular disease, cerebral palsy, respiratory disease, autism spectrum disorder, Alzheimer’s disease, Down syndrome, spinal cord injuries, and countless other illnesses or injuries that make traditional oral healthcare more difficult.

According to the American Dental Association, one out of every five Americans live with a disability. As patients live longer, their health histories become more complex. Many people have a problem finding dental professionals willing to treat patients with special needs. This frequently leads to a higher risk of periodontal disease, caries, and poor oral hygiene.

How does Massanutten Dental accommodate patients with special needs?

Oral health professionals must be ready to change their oral hygiene techniques when treating patients with complex medical histories and disabilities. Before their first dental appointment, some patients will benefit from a clinic tour and an introduction to the team. They will talk about the patient’s triggers and accommodations to ensure the patient visit and dental procedures go smoothly. After the dental visit, the patient’s caregiver and a dental team can begin the process of treatment planning.

We offer various services that can meet each patient’s individual needs, including wheelchair access, sensory-friendly environments, behavior guidance, positive reinforcement, general anesthesia, nitrous oxide, and treatments tailored to each patient’s specific needs.

Behavioral management techniques used for a pediatric dental patient may include having the patient’s caregiver pose as a patient in the dental chair and permitting the patient to touch the chair, air-water syringes, and fix the light to a setting that makes the patient feel more relaxed. Our team will encourage questions about dental care, dental practice, and dental offices.

Do dentists in special need dentistry have any extra training?

Special needs dentists are trained to care for patients who need extra care when visiting the dentist. They are equipped to handle the challenges of caring for special needs patients. This additional training goes beyond the dental education that health care professionals in general or pediatric dentistry receive. Special needs dentists can serve patients with disabilities with the tools and treatments to maintain proper dental hygiene and good oral health. 

Which types of preventive care can help patients with special needs?

Many patients rely on routine dental care to maintain proper oral hygiene. In addition, many patients like knowing what will happen at their appointment and when.

Here are some suggestions caregivers should incorporate into a patient’s oral care routine:

  • Help maintain the patient’s self-care routine by encouraging brushing with antibacterial toothpaste, flossing regularly, and keeping a healthy diet.
  • Encourage professional teeth cleanings at a dental clinic to help eliminate plaque build-ups that contribute to gingivitis.
  • Get a fluoride varnish—a pain-free treatment that helps prevent tooth decay. A dentist will paint small amounts of fluoride on the top and sides of each tooth with a brush. Then it quickly hardens once it comes in contact with saliva and is brushed off after 4 to 12 hours.
  • If needed, make sure the patient gets dental sealants, a treatment to protect the enamel from plaque and acids. Dentists apply sealants to the chewing surfaces to protect the enamel.

We Offer Special Needs Dental Care in Harrisonburg, VA

Special care dentistry is an important field that helps millions of patients with cognitive impairments and physical disabilities improve their oral health each year. The Massanutten Dental team wants to ensure that every patient’s visit is pleasant regardless of disabilities. Our dental office has years of experience and training to treat special needs patients. If you or someone you know requires accommodation to receive treatment or dental care, please don’t hesitate to contact us for more information.