The Oral Epidemic in Children with Special Needs

humanity in healthcare

By: Munir Gomaa

A few weeks ago, several of my dental school classmates and I were privileged with the opportunity to volunteer at a local resource center that provides community-based, educational services to students with severe developmental disabilities. The majority of these students, ranging from 3 to 21 years of age, have profound mental retardation that significantly impairs their ability to perform simple daily tasks, such as eating and drinking, communicating, and, of course, brushing and flossing. My colleagues and I spent the morning performing oral-health screenings on these children, making referrals to our school’s clinic for emergent care when necessary. Our time with each patient was brief. Screenings were performed in a small classroom–many were in wheelchairs as we performed one-minute examinations whenever possible, often only catching a glimpse or two of the oral cavity.

To nobody’s surprise, the oral-health of most of these students was amongst the poorest we’ve…

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