Oral and Dental Health of Individuals with Disabilities
On the occasion of 3 December World Disability Day, Eastern Mediterranean University (EMU) Faculty of Dentistry provided information about oral and dental health for people with disabilities. The statement reads as follows:
“Oral and dental health problems of the disabled citizens in our country is a serious public problem which is generally ignored but threatening the quality of life. We wanted to draw attention to this important problem by providing brief information about the problems of the disabled people on World Disability Day.
Individuals with disabilities are in a high risk group for oral and dental diseases. Therefore, it is very important to protect their oral and dental health. Nutritional and chewing problems are common in these individuals. Special attention is needed regarding the nutritional habits of these individuals. Consumption of foods containing sugar and carbohydrates should be reduced. An increase in speech problems is observed with the loss of teeth as well as loss of productivity in the education of children. Most patients cannot adapt to the use of prostheses or other apparatus.
What should be done?
As soon as the primary teeth are visible in the mouth, they should be cleaned with a gauze at certain intervals, usually after feeding. After the age of two, a small and soft-bristled toothbrush should be used. The tongue must also be brushed to prevent bad breath. Special three-sided brushes and electronic toothbrushes are recommended for ease of use. The preventive practices in oral and dental health are very important due to the difficulties encountered at the treatment stage. In order to prevent tooth decay, fluoride applications should be performed. Tablet forms for disabled people or gel forms that the dentist can apply are also among the choices. After the appearance of the permanent teeth, fissure sealant polishes should be applied by dentist to the chewing surfaces of the teeth. If possible, patient follow-up should be carried out by the same dentist.
What should be considered in nutrition?
In individuals with disabilities who are bottle fed, as the consumed milk, ready formulas and fruit juices contain sugar, this type of nutrition causes results in tooth decays. It is necessary to drink water after feeding or to clean the mouth with a gauze. If possible, night feeding should be avoided. The main reason for tooth decay is sugary, acidic nutrients remaining in mouth and sticking to the teeth and gums. Unless a special diet is recommended, food items containing high levels of sugar and carbohydrates should not be given between meals and these types of foods should be consumed alongside with main courses.
If brushing of the teeth cannot be performed for people with disabilities who have to be fed with puree type of soft foods, their mouth should be rinsed with water or food residues should be wiped off with a clean cloth following meals. Since most of the syrup type of medicine contain sugar, those who take such medicine should constantly pay more attention to oral-dental care.
How to Brush Teeth?
Younger patients with muscular co-ordination disorders, patients who are able to stand, patients who need support in sitting position and patients who are difficult to control have different tooth brushing positions. Dental brushing techniques catering for the needs of the aforesaid groups of patients should be learned with the support of the dentists. It is imperative that oral-dental checks should be carried out by the dentists once every six months.
As EMU Dentistry Faculty, we wish a happy and an unhindered life for all individuals with disabilities.
(Source: TDHB Publications)