Our mission at Disability Dental Services is to give patients with a wide variety of special needs easy access to high-quality, personalized dental care in a comfortable environment. Dr. Ford and our team have several years of experience serving patients with many unique challenges, so no matter your loved one’s situation, you can trust they’ll be in great hands here. Be sure to give us a call and tell us about them so we can guarantee they have a great appointment! To learn more about some of the disabilities we’re able to accommodate, read on below.
For patients with intellectual disabilities, we know that having patience is the best way to guarantee a smooth appointment. We’re more than happy to explain each part of a procedure and show what the different instruments do so the patient can understand what’s going on and relax. If needed, sedation can help calm any lingering nerves as well. In our experience, after a few good visits, patients start to unconsciously associate our office with safety and comfort, making follow-up visits nice and easy.
People with intellectual disabilities tend to have difficulty maintaining a self-care routine, and this includes brushing and flossing their teeth every day. As a result, they tend to experience a much higher rate of cavities, gum disease, and tooth loss compared to the rest of the population.
And, especially for those who are non-verbal, they may have oral habits they use to soothe themselves that can be detrimental to their oral health, such as thumb sucking, lip/cheek biting, or teeth grinding.
The types of medication a person is taking can lead to dental issues as well, as a common side effect is dry mouth, in which there isn’t enough saliva being produced. This makes it easier for harmful oral bacteria to develop.
And lastly, bringing a patient with an ID to the dentist can be extremely difficult, as the unfamiliar people, sounds, smells, and instruments can cause a lot of anxiety and fear. All of this is why it’s important for these kinds of patients to visit a specialist who can accommodate them and ensure they receive the care they deserve while minimizing their stress.
Dr. Ford and our team understand that the term “intellectual disability” can refer to a wide range of cognitive conditions and symptoms, which is why we never treat two patients the same way. We know to take things slow and can explain what’s going on during an appointment in various ways so the patient can feel safe and know what to expect. This may involve using pictures and demonstrations in addition to verbally explaining in a calm way.
We may recommend that you bring the patient in for a “happy visit” so they can become familiar with our office and staff. The point of the visit isn’t to provide dental care, necessarily, but rather to make a good first impression so the patient knows they are in a safe place. The patient can sit and play while the parent/caregiver talks to Dr. Ford about their dental and medical history, and then the staff will be introduced to them. Based on how things are going, we may perform a very quick and gentle exam.
As the child becomes more acclimatized to our office, we will start giving them complete checkups and cleanings, and if any issues pop up along the way, we will take the same patient approach when fixing them.
In addition to hands-on care, our team can also work with you to help the patient establish an oral hygiene routine at home. We can show them how to brush and floss properly if they are able, and if not, we can show you how to do it for them in the safest and most effective way possible. We’ll recommend which oral healthcare products they should be using and provide guidelines based on their day-to-day routine so that taking care of their teeth becomes normal very quickly.
Before you bring the patient in for a dental appointment, it’s best to start talking about the dentist a few weeks or even months beforehand. Read books to them about dental visits and play “dentist” if you can, where you and the person switch off being the dentist and patient. Through play, you can get them used to holding their mouth open so it isn’t new when they come to see us. Of course, if you ever need help or want input ahead of an appointment, you can always call our team, and we can put together a tailormade plan with you so their relationship with our office starts on the right foot.
Life is unpredictable and a little scary for people with epilepsy, and our team is ready to handle whatever happens. We can sedate an epileptic patient so it’s guaranteed they remain still during their appointment, and should they suffer a seizure while in our office, our team knows how to manage it to keep them and everyone else safe.
Thanks to our wide hallways and wheelchair accessibility, patients with muscular dystrophy don’t have any issues moving through our office. With our Versatilt Wheelchair Lift, moving a patient and performing procedures without removing them from their chair is simple and comfortable.
We understand that sitting or laying down for an extended period of time can be quite unpleasant for a patient with multiple sclerosis, which is why in addition to offering sedation, our team will also work very efficiently while still delivering excellent care.
Every autism patient is unique, which is why before they see us, our team will take the time to have a conversation with their caretaker so we can make sure the environment and our approach are perfectly suited to them by the time they arrive. We can adjust the lighting, soundscape, and even the scent of our space as needed so that both the patient and caretaker can breathe easy as we look after their smile.
People with Down syndrome tend to suffer from a higher rate of oral health issues like cavities and missing teeth compared to the average population, which is why we highly prioritize hygiene and at-home care with this type of patient. For those who are nervous or scared of the dentist, our team’s warm demeanor is tremendously helpful, and our sedation services can also soothe them so that they feel completely safe.
There are many layers to cerebral palsy, and no patient’s condition is exactly the same. That’s why we’ll discuss a patient’s particular challenges before their appointment so we can accommodate them in every way. Our office is designed for easy assisted mobility and is extremely wheelchair accessible, plus sedation can be used to help the patient both physically and mentally relax.
It is especially important for patients with dementia/Alzheimer’s to receive regular oral care in order to preserve their overall health and quality of life. Our team understands that a lot of patience is necessary, and that a patient might not always understand what is going on. We’ll try to explain everything best we can, and if the patient is anxious, we can use sedation to calm their mind so they quickly relax.