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How to ensure dental hygiene for disabled children

For a parent of a disabled child, managing their daily activities can be quite challenging. Most of the disabled kids are inattentive, show lack of interest and some of them are even slow. But with a little bit of care and patience, any hard task can be made easy!

Dental hygiene is essential for children with and without disabilities. Most of the parents are unaware of the need for their child to visit a dentist on regular intervals. For a disabled child, it is even more important. There are many trained paediatric dentists who can give you expert advice on how to ensure best dental hygiene for your disabled child.

Parents are hesitant to take a disabled child to a dentist because they tend to scream and make a lot of noise. But have you tried talking to your child about the benefits of visiting a dentist and how it can help them have better oral health? Try and reward your child every time they behave well at the dentist. Your child wouldn't mind going for visits on regular intervals!

"All children, whether they are disabled or not, must brush their teeth twice a day. If the child is able to spit, they can use a fluoridated tooth paste that is easily available in the market. If they cannot spit, then make sure you use fluorine free toothpaste. Use a toothbrush with good handle grip. Even automatic toothbrushes can do the trick. Fluorine therapy can be done at a dental office at ages 6, 9 and 12 respectively. This helps in preventing decays. Parents who have children with disabilities must make sure that their child visits a dentist every six months. Make sure that you train them all this from a very young age- Dr Harikrishnan KP, Dentist from Chengannur in Kerala.

Here are some tips to ensure dental hygiene for disabled children

  • Be patient and slow- Your child might not take dental tips seriously. It might even be difficult to try and explain things to them. But do not give up. Just like every other part of the body, our teeth need a lot of care and attention. So even if your child is cranky, be patient and ensure that he or she does all the processes thoroughly. For example, if your child has autism and has sensory problems, teach them everything step by step. It will be fun and less stressful for the child. Some days, you might not be able to ensure that they brush properly. But something is better than nothing!
  • Catch them young- Make sure that your child is introduced to oral hygiene at a young age. They must know that it is essential to have healthy teeth and gums. If you give them the right advice, they will start developing an interest for it. For instance, start wiping your baby's teeth and gums from a young age. Once they grow up, try using infant toothbrushes that are easily available in the market. All these will help your child have a better insight into importance of dental hygiene.
  • Make regular dentist visits- This goes without a say! Just like how your child visits a doctor, they must be introduced to a dentist as well. Paediatric dentists will make sure that your child has healthy teeth and gums. Give them some rewards when they behave well at the dentist!
  • Don't miss a day- Some children might just hate brushing their teeth. They might come up with numerous reasons not to. But being a parent, you must ensure that they do it regularly. Let them understand that this ritual is a must every morning and evening! If you skip once, they tend to become uncooperative the next time. So it is best to avoid such situations.

"For disabled children, taking care of their oral hygiene is very important. It is completely the responsibility of the parent. Most disabled children lack co-ordination. So brushing their teeth can be a tedious task. With the guidance of a parent, they can do it better. It is always best that a disabled child's dental hygiene is up to the mark because visiting a dentist is a nightmare for most of them. I have come across a few kids who do not want to even sit on a dentist's chair! So prevention is clearly better than cure", says Dr Devika Kumar, a dentist from Kochi in Kerala.

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