South Yarra Orthodontics

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4 Oral Care Tips for Patients with Special Needs

Braces date back to nearly 3000 years ago and we have since come a long way in using orthodontic treatments to serve people from all walks of life. To us, this also includes people who are living with disabilities. If you are or know of someone living with an impairment, you would know that life goes on despite the challenges they face. However, many feel that having orthodontic treatment may present a challenge or people with special needs especially when it comes to oral care.

Depending on the patient’s level of functioning – orthodontic options like braces can be fitted on. Braces are better-suited appliance as they are fixed and cannot get lost, however, each case is different and we can only properly recommend a device after a consultation.

Here are 4 tips to take care of orthodontic devices for people with special needs:

Tip 1: More visits

Ideally, we would like to see our patients at least once every six weeks to monitor their progress, but when it comes to patients with specials needs, we would like to see them more regularly as there is an increased risk that the device may get damaged.

Tip 2: Use brushes and floss that is appropriate for the patient

Brushing and flossing are especially important with braces as the device makes it easy for food particles to hide between the brackets and wires. Brushing and flossing need to be made easier for people with special needs which is why it is a good option to get oral care devices made especially for them. Smaller heads, improved grip or longer handles are some of the modifications that can be made.

Tip 3: Keep things simple

Everyone has the right to properly understand what is happening to them and their body. It is good to explain to people with special needs exactly what will be done, what braces are and why they need it. Any questions they may need to be answered, should be answered clearly and patiently. Speaking down to them or being abrupt can only frustrate the situation and increase the patient’s anxiety. Illustrations can also be used to increase understanding, especially when dealing with children.

Tip 4: How can you treat anxiety

Dental anxiety exists in many patients preventing them from receiving the care they need. This fear also applies to adults from all walks of life and may be a result of a bad experience or fears of the unknown. For professionals, sedatives and a number of relaxation techniques can be used, but caring for someone with dental anxiety and special needs is especially difficult when it comes to every day at home care, which many people would need assistance with. Having someone else’s hand in their mouth might make the patient feel scared. They might bite or fight off the person who is trying to help them. The key is patience and being gentle, accommodating and encouraging despite the frustration. It is also important to explain what you are trying to do before you actually do it.


Good oral health care at home is just as important (if not more) as visiting the dentist.

Chat with us about orthodontic care and options for your loved ones who have special needs but still deserve a dazzling smile. We’re here to help you in your journey so book an appointment with us today.