Special patients....aren't all patients special? Yes, of course, but there are those who require additional attention and care. These patients are generally classified as "special needs" patients. These children (and adults) have medial conditions which can limit their ability to fit comfortably into the normal dental office. They may have difficulty communicating, cooperating or have physical limitations of one sort or another. Children with Down's Syndrome or Cerebral Palsy make up most of the patients in this group. There are many syndromes or handicapping conditions that can require special attention from the doctor and team in the dental office. In addition to health concerns, Down's Syndrome patients often have specific dental problems such as delayed eruption of teeth. There is also often a high incidence of missing and / or malformed teeth. Patients may develop malocclusions where normal orthodontic treatment modalities are limited. Many special needs patients have difficulty maintaining good oral hygiene.
Routine dental exams and cleanings can be a challenge, not only for the parent, caretaker, but also for the dental team. X-rays are often not possible and just getting a good look can be very difficult. How do we do fillings or other more technically precise procedures if the patient is moving or unable to cooperate? Well, that's where Pediatric Dentists use their training and experience to find the best solution to a difficult problem. Many times special needs patients are treated in a similar manner as other patients. In some cases, however, the use of general anesthesia is the preferred method. Being asleep for dental treatment allows x-rays to be taken and treatment to be completed and still maintain a pleasant experience for the patient.
We cannot state the profound satisfaction of working with special needs patients. The parents of special needs patients are quite amazing. Some of these "children" are in their 30's, so the parents are much older than that, but they still show a loving dutiful caring for their children.