YOUR ROLE IN HELPING CHILDREN WITH DISABILITIES CARE FOR THEIR DENTAL HEALTH

Following is information on caring for the disabled child's dental health. Please follow these suggestions in the dental care of disabled students that you have. If possible, make a copy of these suggestions for parents of your disabled students.

TEACHING CHILDREN WITH SPECIAL PROBLEMS

Preventive dental care may be difficult for children with disabilities. The "simple" techniques of keeping teeth clean can be quite difficult for handicapped children. Often a toothbrush must be adapted for the child with a handicap. The dental profession suggests the following modifications:

Holding the toothbrush:

Attach the brush to the hand with a wide elastic band, or bond a fingernail brush handle to the toothbrush.
Enlarge the handle with a sponge, piece of styrofoam, rubber ball, bicycle handle grip, or similar item.
Lengthen the handle with a piece of wood or plastic to aid those with limited shoulder movement.
Bend the brush handle after warming it. Vigorously rub the brush for a minute or run hot tap water over the handle (not the head). (This procedure may not work for all toothbrushes.) Then bend the brush handle into position to clean the child's teeth.

What Positions Can Be Used?

If an adult must clean the child's teeth, the child's dentist and physician should be consulted when deciding what position to use. Not all positions are safe for all children. Some possible positions are:

If using a position in which the child leans back, take care to avoid choking or gagging the child. Toothpaste need not be used, but the brush should be rinsed often and the child should rinse out his or her mouth when brushing is finished. When the teeth are clean, a little fluoride toothpaste can be put on the brush and spread over the teeth, or a fluoride mouth rinse can be used. This will help prevent decay by giving the teeth some of the fluoride protection they need.
 

GROUPS WORKING WITH THE DISABLED
 

If you need information or help in locating a dentist who works with the disabled, several groups may be of assistance:

Academy of Dentistry for the Handicapped
211 East Chicago Avenue
Chicago, Illinois 60611
312-440-2660

American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry
211 East Chicago Avenue, Suite 1235
Chicago, Illinois 60611
312-337-2169

American Dental Association
Bureau of Health Education and Audiovisual Services
211 East Chicago Avenue, Suite 1616
Chicago, Illinois 60611
312-440-2593

American Society of Dentistry for Children
211 East Chicago Avenue, Suite 920
Chicago, Illinois 60611
312-943-2344

United Cerebral Palsy Association
66 East 34th Street
New York, New York 10016
212-481-6300

National Foundation of Dentistry for the Handicapped
1250 14th Street, Suite 610
Denver, Colorado 80202
303-573-0264

Your local dental society
(Check in your phone book or write to the American Dental Association for the address of the dental society near you.).