Providing Orthodontic Care to Special Needs Patients

Everyone should have access to quality orthodontic care, but some individuals require special services or facilities to receive this care.

Despite the high prevalence of orthodontic issues among children and adults with intellectual or developmental disabilities, many do not receive orthodontic treatment. This is because those with special intellectual or developmental needs often have behavioral challenges that can interfere with braces or aligner therapy. This can include those with autism, Down syndrome, spinal cord injuries and other conditions that can make orthodontic treatment difficult to begin.

However, with care from a special needs orthodontist and management of behaviors through medication or verbal intervention, orthodontic treatment is a possibility for special needs patients. Whether you or your child suffer from a disability, you can still receive the orthodontic treatment you deserve (and a perfect smile) by choosing an orthodontist who is experienced in caring for special needs patients.

Before Your Trip to the Orthodontist

A healthy mouth is a requirement for any candidate for orthodontic treatment. Some disabled patients may have trouble caring for their smile, or be more prone to specific oral health issues. This is why your orthodontist will likely recommend a trip to the dentist before your orthodontic consultation. Your dentist will be able to identify any cavities, gum disease, or infections, and treat them in preparation for your orthodontist appointment.

At Laster Orthodontics we have treated many special needs patients. We take the extra time to get to know our special needs patients and often schedule a few non-invasive appointments to help our special needs patients get to know us and feel comfortable in our office before their treatment.  We have found this can be very helpful with our patients who are anxious, scared, or don’t trust doctors easily.

Care During Appointments

Orthodontic professionals, like those at Laster Orthodontics, realize that there’s no one-size-fits-all approach to orthodontic care for special needs. This is why you should discuss you or your child’s unique needs as early as possible so that your orthodontist can come up with a plan that addresses any challenges you may have during an appointment in their office. Your orthodontist should have full disclosure of you, or your child or dependent’s, medical condition, any medication being taken, and typical behaviors that may inhibit treatment, to prepare for the appointment.

Individuals with intellectual or developmental disabilities may require the help of a caregiver at appointments due to anxiety or difficulty comprehending instructions. Some patients, especially those with sensory issues, may require sunglasses, headphones, or medication to make them more comfortable.

During your consultation or appointment, your orthodontist will need the parent or guardian, as well as the patient’s, full consent to perform orthodontic services. In addition, parents or guardians must be willing to participate in any and all requirements for orthodontic service to ensure the patient can achieve their perfect smile safely.

Providing Braces Services to Special Needs Patients

Patients with intellectual disabilities have a higher chance of suffering from poor oral health or broken appliances during braces treatment than other patients. This is why close monitoring from our staff, and parents or guardians or caregivers, is required for our patients with special needs disabilities.

Patient safety is a priority for orthodontics, especially when it comes to special needs patients. Braces may not be possible for all patients with intellectual disabilities. Ethically, Laster Orthodontics may recommend opting out of braces treatment for unwilling or oppositional patients. This is because behaviors that can inhibit successful treatment, or even cause harm to the patient, may occur when the patient does not understand the treatment or refuses to be treated. Laster Orthodontics also can tailor a plan to our special needs patient. We can’t always achieve perfection with the special needs patient, but we have noticed that aligning the teeth can help even our non-communicative patients feel more self confident just through their body language and smile.

Providing Aligner Services to Special Needs Patients

Some patients, particularly those on the autistic spectrum and who suffer from cerebral palsy, may be sensitive to the wires and brackets involved with braces. Some patients may have increased saliva and limited muscle control, which also may remove braces as a treatment option. In these cases, clear aligners offer a solution that benefits the patient and provides an orthodontic solution.

At Laster Orthodontics, Dr. Laster not only offers Invisalign, he also offers Laster Perfect Smile clear aligners. These clear aligners are a faster, more accurate, cost-effective alternative to Invisalign aligners. Both Invisalign and Laster Perfect Smile aligners can be successful for special needs patients. We have had success treating special needs patients with clear aligners when they are able to successfully put them in and take them out and comply with wearing the aligners the recommended duration.

Alternatives to Orthodontic Care for Special Needs Patients

There are other approaches to orthodontic needs if braces or aligners are not recommended, such as extractions, limited treatment including skeletal anchorage, or jaw surgery. These solutions offer special needs patients the opportunity to safely and efficiently correct malocclusions that can be functionally hindering. Your orthodontist will know how to best identify the treatment plan best for you, your child, or dependent’s smile.

At Laster Orthodontics, we believe that everyone should have access to the orthodontic care they need, which is why we’re happy to work with our patients with special needs so they can get the treatment they need. With compassionate professionals and state-of-the-art equipment, our goal is to make every appointment go smoothly so you can receive quality orthodontic care. Contact us today to learn more about our services for patients with special needs and to discuss how we can work with you to address your orthodontic needs.

At Laster Orthodontics, we help families develop healthy, life-changing smiles using customized treatments, cutting-edge technologies, and caring relationships. Our individualized treatment plans help our patients achieve their perfect smile in the quickest, most painless way possible by utilizing a wide range of options from traditional braces to Propel accelerated treatment to Dr. Laster’s in-house aligner program, Laster Perfect Smile. With three locations throughout the Triangle Area, we create life-changing smiles every day.