COMMENTARY

Oral Health and the Child With Cerebral Palsy

Eric T. Stoopler, DMD

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December 26, 2014

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Oral health behaviors should be an important consideration in the overall care of patients, especially young children. These behaviors are often modeled by PCGs to young children to demonstrate the importance of consistent oral hygiene practices and to get them accustomed to routine dental visits. The results of this study suggest that preschool children may be visiting their dental professionals more frequently for problem-related concerns rather than routine care. While the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends an initial oral examination at the time of eruption of the first tooth and no later than 12 months of age, with interval examinations commonly at 6 months for children who are developing normally, these recommendations may need to be modified for patients with special healthcare needs.[4] This is of particular importance to young children with CP, who may be at an increased risk for the most common oral diseases, such as dental caries and periodontal diseases. Barriers to provision of dental care vary on the basis of such factors as socioeconomic parameters and access to care. These factors should be considered when analyzing utilization of dental services.

This study also suggests that PCGs of preschool children without CP may not be assisting their children with tooth brushing as frequently as PCGs of children with CP. This may be due to perceived adequate manual dexterity skills on the part of the PCGs of children without CP to satisfactorily complete this oral hygiene practice.

All young children, including those with physical disabilities, should be assisted with oral hygiene practices to ensure that these tasks are being completed appropriately. It is incumbent upon oral healthcare providers to ensure that appropriate oral health behaviors are being modeled to individuals from an early age, discussed with children's PCGs, and disseminated on a community basis if the opportunity to do so exists.

Abstract

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