Over 20 percent of the U.S. population has a disability. These disabilities can be present at birth and last throughout life or they can develop later in life. Disabilities can range from mild to severe and may affect the mind or the body or both. People with disabilities usually have more dental problems than those who do not have a disability. Some people with disabilities need no help with brushing or flossing. Others may need just a little help. Some may depend completely on others to provide their dental care. It is very important to look at the person's specific needs to help find what works best for their dental care.
What are some dental concerns for those with disabilities?
Cavities - seen often in those who have problems brushing and flossing
Gum disease - seen often in those who have problems brushing and flossing
Harmful oral habits - grinding teeth, pushing on teeth with tongue
Trauma to the mouth or teeth - damage from falls or seizures
Side effects of medications - some dry the mouth or cause gum tissue to over grow
What can be done to help those with disabilities with dental care?
Use toothpaste that has fluoride in it
Have dental sealants placed by a dentist
Ask about the side effects of medicines that you are taking
If possible, switch to medicines that have fewer oral side effects
Swish with water after taking liquid medicines containing sugar
Drink a lot of water each day
Eat a well-balanced diet, limit sugary sweets and snacks
Adapt toothbrushes to make them easier to hold
Use electric toothbrushes, flossers and floss handles
Department of Health - Division of Dental Health 109 Governor St., 9th Flr., Richmond, VA 23219
Phone: (804) 864-7775 • FAX: (804) 864-7783