Common Dental Issues for Teens with Special Needs

Teens with special needs are at particular risk for specific oral health issues, so they must develop healthy dental habits at home.

A visit to the dentist can be stressful and scary for anyone. Children and teens with special needs are even more likely to have a bad experience at the dentist because of factors like overstimulation and heightened pain sensitivity. These factors can make their day-to-day dental routine a significant obstacle as well. However, there are steps any parent or guardian can take to make oral care a better experience for a child with special needs.

Call The Dental Anesthesia Center today to schedule your appointment. We offer pre-appointments if your child or teen needs to meet the dentist and see the office before getting their dental treatment.

Common Dental Issues for Teens with Special Needs

Teens with special needs are at particular risk for specific oral health issues. Common dental problems that teens with special needs are more at risk for include:

  • Congenitally missing teeth – This genetic mutation can cause a person to be born without certain teeth. The most common teeth affected are the wisdom teeth and secondary molars. Still, primary teeth can also be congenitally missing and cause difficulty chewing and speaking, as well as malocclusion.
  • Bruxism – This is the medical term for teeth grinding. Chronic bruxism is common in individuals with cerebral palsy and autism. Gnashing and grinding one’s teeth can lead to serious dental problems.
  • Crowding and impacted teeth – Crowding teeth occur when there is not enough space in the mouth for all the teeth, causing some teeth to grow at an angle. Impacted teeth appear when teeth grow horizontally in the mouth toward other teeth.
  • Jaw misalignment – Often seen as overbites or underbites, jaw misalignment can be a symptom of other dental problems, like malocclusion or microdontia, or can exist independently. Jaw misalignment can cause difficulty sleeping, chronic headaches, or temporomandibular joint dysfunction (TMJ).
  • Holding food in their mouth – This condition is known as food pouching. This makes it easy for bacteria to grow and cause cavities.
  • Delay of tooth eruption – For some children with special needs, their teeth take longer to come in. This is often seen in children with Down syndrome.
  • Dry mouth – Your teen’s condition or the medications they take can affect saliva production. A dry mouth leads to tooth decay, gum disease, and oral infections.

Your teen may experience more than one of these challenges regarding oral hygiene. At The Dental Anesthesia Center, we offer complete dental care for children with any special needs.

Maintaining Healthy Oral Hygiene at Home

As previously mentioned, teens with special needs are at a higher risk of chronic dental issues, so they must develop healthy dental habits at home. We recommend brushing twice a day and flossing at least once. However, if your teen has oral trauma, like misformed teeth, chronic sores, habitual lip, tongue, and cheek biting — or cannot brush on their own, these standards can present challenges.

Special Needs Dentistry St. Louis

Developmentally disabilities, special needs, and medically compromised individuals suffer from an array of dental problems just like everyone else! Everyone requires individual attention and dental care, from dental abscesses to throbbing pain, cavities, and gum disease. We are here to help you and your loved one at The Dental Anesthesia Center.

Call Us Today

The only board-certified dental anesthesiologist in Missouri, including St. Louis.

Updated: December 4, 2022

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