Family & Cosmetic Care in a Comfortable, Relaxed Environment.

Serving Las Vegas and Henderson, Nevada since 1999.

Autism -  a developmental disability that significantly affects communication (both verbal and non verbal) and social interaction, generally evident before age three, that adversely affects educational performance. Other characteristics often associated with autistic people are, engagement in repetitive activities and stereotyped movements, resistance to environmental change or change in daily routines, and unusual responses to sensory experiences.

-1 percent of the population of children in the U.S. ages 3-17 have an autism spectrum disorder.

-Prevalence is estimated at 1 in 88 births.

-1 to 1.5 million Americans live with an autism spectrum disorder.

Autistic patients, as well as patients with similar behavioral and possibly intellectual challenges,  present a unique challenge for dentists as well as parents. Most dental procedures  involve the use of bright lights, loud noises, and touching of a very sensitive part of the body.  Most people in general are uneasy, and apprehensive about dental treatment, imagine what it is like for an autistic child or adult.

Hypersensitivity to one’s environment is usually a hallmark trait for most autistic patients. This makes dental care even more challenging, as they may react adversely to the sensory overload. Autistic patients do not like change in their daily schedules, new noises, new people, or new activities. In the past, these challenges would lead to most dentists turning away such patients, but in modern dentistry this is no longer the case.  There are many dentists who have training to help them with the special challenges that come with autism.

Dental Issues For Autistic Patients

-Poor Dental Hygiene. While this is not isolated just to Autistic patients, the autistic population has an increased risk of poor maintenance.

-Increased Tooth Decay. Poor dental hygiene and tooth decay go hand in hand but for these patients there is increased risk due to many parents and caregivers use of candy as a reward for good behavior, and a common habit of pocketing of food in the cheek. The increased exposure to sugars, and leaving carbohydrates in direct contact with the tooth surface over prolonged periods an will lead to increase in tooth decay.

-Teeth Grinding or Bruxism. While many people suffer from this, we have seen a higher rate of autistic patients vs the general population exhibiting this behavior.

-Self Injury. Many autistic patients will bite or pick at their gums creating an issue dentally. A mouth guard might be recommended as long as the autistic patient can tolerate it.

-Medication related issues. Many autistic patients suffer from seizures and therefore take medication for it. These medicationscan lead to decreased saliva production which can lead to dry mouth and subsequent bad breath and tooth decay.

Techniques for Handling Autistic Patients in Dental Chair

1) Set up a Pre-Appointment Tour and Introduction. Parents should talk to the dentist ahead of time to let him/her know a bit about the child, including what helps to soothe and what is an easy set off for behaviors. Let the patient come to the office to tour the facilities and get a feel for the surroundings and the people there. Let them see the trays as well as touch everything that is safe for them to touch. This should include the x ray machine so they are familiar with it when they arrive for the actual appointment. Meeting the entire staff is very important as well.

2) Keep Initial Visit as short as possible. Make the first visit quick and as noninvasive as possible.

3) Always keep Communicating. The dentist and Hygienist needs to explain what is going to happen to the child directly, what instruments are going to be used, what it might feel like, and about how long it is going to take to finish. The child should feel free to ask questions, and be taught hand signals to let the dentist know if they need a break, or if they cannot tolerate any more.

4) Have Parents in Room if Needed. This one becomes a personal choice between parent or caregiver and dentist. Some patients do well with them in room and some do not. It is totally a case by case decision. Never be afraid of insisting that you be present during the dental appointment –  your child may require you to be there anyway. Make sure the dental staff is comfortable with this.

5) Possible use of General Anesthesia, Sedatives, restraints. More involved dental procedures like tooth extractions, dental fillings and even radiographs can be done under sedation or general anesthesia if the patient’s behavior is likely to create difficulty for the dentist or patient in providing safe dental care. Restraints sound scary to most, but autistic children, especially those with Aspergers are calmed by a tight pediwrap. Aspergers children often squeeze themselves in a hug or wear tight clothing to self soothe in an intense situation.

Conclusion For Autistic Patients Dental Care

Autistic patients are presented with challenges everyday of their lives so it is up to those around them to come up with solutions to make it as seamless as possible for them. The challenge is there, but it can be overcome with patience between dentist, patient, and parent/caregiver. With proper planning, dental care is possible to maintain autistic patients teeth and gums for a lifetime.

Maintaining our oral health can be challenging at times. We all live busy schedules but research has shown that good oral health can lead to good overall health. Below are some tips to help embrace your oral health today!

Top Oral Health Tips

-Brush at least twice a day and floss daily before bedtime. Periodontal disease and tooth decay are major issues as we get older. Almost 75% of all teenagers have gums that bleed. This is one of the first signs of the development of periodontal disease. In its earliest form (gingivitis), the damage is reversible so it is best to catch it early. Other brushing tips include:

-Change your toothbrush at least every 6 months.

-Teenagers with braces may need to use special toothbrushes and other oral hygiene tools to brush their teeth.

-Older people with arthritis or other problems may have trouble holding a toothbrush or using floss. Some people find it easier to use an electric toothbrush.

-Become A Gum Chewer. Chewing sugar free gum (or gum with xylitol) after a meal can also protect by increasing saliva flow, which naturally washes bacteria away and neutralizes acid.

-Do Not Smoke (Or Use Smokeless Tobacco). Not only will using tobacco products stain your teeth but their use will significantly increase the risk of periodontal disease and oral cancer.

-Eat A Well Balanced Diet. No matter your age, a healthy, well balanced diet is essential to healthy teeth and gums. A well-balanced diet of whole foods (this includes whole grains, nuts, fruits and vegetables, and cheeses) will provide all the nutrients you need. Research has also shown consuming more fish (omega-3 fats) may actually reduce the risk of developing periodontal disease. It is believed the omega-3 fats will lower inlfammation in the body including the gum tissues.

-Avoid Sugary Foods. When bacteria in the mouth break down simple sugars, they produce acids that can erode your tooth’s enamel, opening the door to tooth decay. Sugary drinks, including colas and fruit drinks, pose a special threat because people tend to sip them, raising acid levels over a long period of time. Sticky candies (like gummy bears and fruit roll ups) are another culprit, because they linger on teeth surfaces.

-Play Smart. Sports help maintain our body and mind health, but they can pose a major threat to teeth. Most school teams now require children to wear mouth guards. But remember: unsupervised recreational activities like skateboarding and roller blading can also result in injuries. An over the counter mouthguard can help soften the blow from theses traumatic injuries. A custom made sports mouthguard made by your dentist can be even more effective as research has shown a well fitted mouthguard can actually help reduce incidence of concussions.

-Maintain A Regular Appointment Schedule. It is recommended to have a dental examination every 6 months — more often if you have problems like periodontal disease. During a routine exam, your dentist or dental hygienist will:

-Check For Tooth Decay.

-Remove plaque and tartar that cannot be brushed or flossed away.

-Check For Early Signs Of Oral Cancer. Most cases of oral cancer can be treated if found early enough. Undetected, oral cancer can spread to other parts of the body and become harder to treat. Once oral cancer progresses it becomes very very difficult to effectively treat.

-Wear and tear from tooth grinding (also called bruxism). Teeth grinding may be caused by stress or anxiety. Over time, it can wear down the biting surfaces of teeth, making them more susceptible to tooth decay. If your teeth show signs of bruxism, your dentist may recommend a mouth guard worn at night to prevent grinding.

-Signs of periodontal disease. Periodontal disease (also called gingivitis or periodontitis) is the leading cause of tooth loss. Unfortunately, by the time most people notice any of the warning signs of periodontitis, it’s too late to reverse the damage.

-Interactions with medications. Older patients, especially those on multiple medications, are at risk of dry mouth, or xerostomia. Reduced saliva flow increases the risk of tooth decay and gum problems. As many as 800 different drugs cause dry mouth as a side effect. Always tell your dentist about any medications you take. A change in prescriptions may help lessen the problem. Saliva like oral mouthwashes are also available.

-Get Children Started Early. 1 in 4 young children develops signs of tooth decay before they start school. Half of all children between the ages of 12 and 15 have tooth decay. Dental care should begin as soon as a child’s first tooth appears, usually around six months.

Oral Health Conclusion

Maintaining good oral health should become a habit from an early age. The earlier we get into the routine the easier it will be to stay healthy throughout our lives.

For many choosing a dentist can be one of the most difficult things to do in life. It is also one of the most important decisions you can make for your health. Below are a few of the things to consider when choosing a new dentist for you and your family.

Choosing The Best Dentist For You

-Clinical Experience. It is important to consider a dentist’s professional background before making an appointment. Knowing what school a dentist went to, what their area of expertise is and what other credentials they might have can help you decide if a certain dentist is right for you. Usually, this information is quite easy to find and located on a dentist’s website. The American Dental Association (ADA) only recognized 9 areas of dentistry that a dentist can specialize in. These are as follows: Endodontics (Root Canal Therapy), Periodontics (treatment of periodontal disease), Pediatric (dentistry for children), Prosthodontics (Advanced Crown/Bridge and Dentures), Oral and Maxillofacial pathologym Oral and Maxillofacial Radiology, Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeon, and Dental Public Health. A general dentist will have knowledge of all of these areas but may choose to take advanced classes in any of these areas to improve care.

-Patient Reviews. With the widespread use of the internet this can be easily found. Many dentists have profiles on a wide range of sites where patients can leave feedback for the dentist but also for prospective new patients. It is important to note the extremes of reviews. If a dentist only has a handful of reviews it is not a very good sample. But once the reviews build up it is easier to get a good overall picture of other patients experiences and what you can expect from your experience.

-Services Offered. It is important to note the dental services offered by the prospective dentist. If you know the type of dental work you need or want, then you need to find a dentist with the experience and knowledge to fit your needs. Some general dentists do not do certain procedures (like teeth extractions or root canal therapy) while others have the skills to cover more services in office. It is important to note a referral to a specialist is not a bad thing. Even the most experienced and skilled dentist will refer patients usually for the patients comfort and to place them in the best hands available for the dental issue.

-Gentle, Comfortable Dental Care. For many patients, dental fear is a real part of their lives. Finding the right dentist can make the difference between seeking care and avoiding it. Not all dentists are trained nor have the ability to handle patients with real dental fear.

Conclusion

As stated earlier finding the right dentist can be difficult but with the steps outlined above it might make it a little easier. Always ask friends and family members for recommendations, it is a good place to start researching a new dentist.

Fluoride has been a controversial subject for many. However, the benefits of fluoride are well known as studies have shown fluoridation of community water has reduced tooth decay by at least 25%. Beyond our drinking water fluoride supplements are also available. For pregnant women, it is important to consider what is ingested to keep the baby and the mother healthy during this critical time.

What Is Fluoride?

Fluoride is a natural mineral found throughout the earth’s crust and widely distributed in nature. Some foods and community water supplies contain fluoride.

How Does Fluoride Work To Prevent Tooth Decay?

Fluoride helps prevent cavities in two different ways:

1. Fluoride concentrates in the growing bones and developing teeth of children, helping to harden the enamel on baby and adult teeth before they erupt.

2. Fluoride helps to harden the enamel on adult teeth that have already erupted.

Fluoride works during the natural process of building up (remineralization) and breaking down (demineralization) the enamel of our teeth.

-After eating a meal, your saliva contains acids that cause demineralization (dissolving of the calcium and phosphorous under the tooth’s surface).

-At other times during the day when your saliva is less acidic, replenishing the calcium and phosphorous that keep your teeth hard. This process is caused remineralization. When fluoride is present during remineralization, the minerals deposited are harder than they would otherwise be, helping to strengthen your teeth and prevent breakdown during the next demineralization period.

Is It Safe For Women To Take Fluoride Supplements During Pregnancy?

NO! Currently there is no evidence to show any benefit to the developing baby’s teeth. In fact they can be hazardous to the baby’s developing teeth. Fluoride supplements can cause the the placenta and be ingested by the baby possibly leading to dental fluorosis (is a developmental disturbance of dental enamel caused by excessive exposure to high concentrations of fluoride during tooth development).

Conclusion

While fluoride supplements should be avoided during pregnancy they serve a positive purpose the rest of our lives. Whether it is through drinking community water, brushing our teeth with a fluoride toothpaste, and through fluoride supplements provided by your dentist.