Posts for: November, 2017
Dental Care For Patients With Autism Spectrum Disorder
The number of children being diagnosed with autism is on the rise. Today, 1 in 68 children have ASD (autism spectrum disorder). Although dental visits for those with ASD may be challenging, oral health is very important, and there are strategies to help make dental visits easier.
What is autism?
- Autism is a developmental disorder, usually diagnosed in early childhood.
- There is no medical test for autism, and a diagnosis is made by observing behaviors.
- Autism occurs in all racial and socio-economic groups.
- ASD is five times more common in boys than in girls.
- There is no known cause of autism, but a combination of genetic and environmental factors is suspected.
- Those with autism have differences in their social and emotional interactions than those without. They may have difficulty communicating and recognizing body language or social cues. They may exhibit repetitive behaviors.
- Those with ASD often have their unique interests and strengths.
- For those on the autism spectrum, some are mildly affected and others may have significant impairments.
Those with autism may be hypersensitive to the environment around them. A dental office is a very stimulating place, with bright lights, unfamiliar people, and strange noises. Some may enjoy having their teeth checked and cleaned, while others may find it very difficult.
Considerations for the first dental visit:
- An office tour before the first appointment is a good way to familiarize them with the dental office environment.
- Bringing them to a family member's dental visit can prepare them for what to expect during their visit.
- The first visits may need to be short and positive. A ride in the chair, meeting the staff, counting teeth can all be positive experiences before more invasive procedures like cleanings or fillings are done.
- Watching a video or seeing a visual schedule is a good way for parents to prepare their child for a dental office visit. This dental tool kit is available for download and is a good resource for parents. https://www.autismspeaks.ca/science-and-family-services/resources/tool-kits/dental-tool-kit1
- Using an electric toothbrush at home may familiarize them with new sensations in the mouth.
- Sunglasses and noise canceling headphones may help to make the environment less stimulating.
- A reward system may help them get through an appointment.
Making sure the dental office is aware of you or your child's special needs in advance will make sure the visit is successful.
Oral hygiene tips for at home:
- Find a toothbrush & toothpaste they like. Get them to help choose, but make sure the brush is the right size & has soft bristles.
- Use a timer. Brush for at least two minutes twice a day.
- Family members can model how they brush and floss their teeth.
- A visual schedule of photographs or illustrations of how to brush their teeth may be helpful.
- Parents will need to assist with brushing and flossing with the goal that the child will learn the skills to do it on their own.
- Praise may be given after each step.
With some preparation and patience, dental visits can become familiar and even enjoyable experiences for those with ASD. Good oral health is an important part of overall health and good oral hygiene practices, and regular dental visits will help prevent major dental issues from occurring.
November is National Diabetes Month—a good time to look at the connection between diabetes and oral health. While it’s important for everyone to take care of their teeth and gums, it may be especially important for people with diabetes.
People whose diabetes is not well controlled have a higher risk of infections in the mouth, especially gum disease, also called periodontal disease. Advanced periodontal disease is the number one cause of tooth loss among adults. Not only does diabetes put you at risk of oral health problems, it goes both ways. Periodontal disease can lead to higher blood sugar levels in people with diabetes and may increase the risk of complications such as heart and kidney problems.
But here’s some good news: People who take good care of their teeth and gums may have better blood sugar levels and, conversely, better blood sugar levels generally result in better gum health. Many people successfully avoid complications of diabetes by taking good care of themselves, including their teeth and gums. Here are some things you can do to help control your diabetes:
- Eat right, exercise and watch your weight for better blood sugar control.
- Keep up with your oral hygiene routine at home.
- Schedule regular dental visits and cleanings.
Better oral health combined with better blood sugar control will reduce your risk of complications from diabetes. Your dental care team can help you maintain the best oral health for better diabetes control.
When they’re introducing a new movie, actors often take a moment to pay tribute to the people who helped make it happen — like, you know, their dentists. At least that’s what Charlize Theron did at the premiere of her new spy thriller, Atomic Blonde.
"I just want to take a quick moment to thank my dentists," she told a Los Angeles audience as they waited for the film to roll. "I don’t even know if they’re here, but I just want to say thank you."
Why did the starring actress/producer give a shout-out to her dental team? It seems she trained and fought so hard in the action sequences that she actually cracked two teeth!
“I had severe tooth pain, which I never had in my entire life,” Theron told an interviewer from Variety. At first, she thought it was a cavity — but later, she found out it was more serious: One tooth needed a root canal, and the other had to be extracted and replaced with a dental implant — but first, a bone grafting procedure was needed. “I had to put a donor bone in [the jaw] to heal,” she noted, “and then I had another surgery to put a metal screw in there.”
Although it might sound like the kind of treatment only an action hero would need, bone grafting is now a routine part of many dental implant procedures. The reason is that without a sufficient volume of good-quality bone, implant placement is difficult or impossible. That’s because the screw-like implant must be firmly joined with the jawbone, so it can support the replacement tooth.
Fortunately, dentists have a way to help your body build new bone: A relatively small amount of bone material can be placed in the missing tooth’s socket in a procedure called bone grafting. This may come from your own body or, more likely, it may be processed bone material from a laboratory. The donor material can be from a human, animal or synthetic source, but because of stringent processing techniques, the material is safe for human use. Once it is put in place your body takes over, using the grafted material as a scaffold on which to build new bone cells. If jawbone volume is insufficient for implants, it can often be restored to a viable point in a few months.
Better yet, when grafting material is placed in the tooth socket immediately after extraction, it can keep most of the bone loss from occurring in the first place, enabling an implant to be placed as soon as possible — even before the end of a movie’s shooting schedule.
Will Atomic Blonde prove to be an action-movie classic? Only time will tell. But one thing’s for sure: When Charlize Theron walks down the red carpet, she won’t have to worry about a gap in her smile.
If you have questions about bone grafting or dental implants, please contact our office or schedule a consultation. You can read more in the Dear Doctor magazine articles “Dental Implant Surgery” and “Immediate Dental Implant.”