110 Polaris Parkway Ste. 120
Westerville, Ohio 43082
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Children with Special Needs

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Children with Special Needs:

Westerville Pediatric Dental is proud to serve families with disabilities and special needs. We believe in a family-oriented approach to dental care. No one understands your child’s needs more than you, and we will work with you to determine the best approach. Our goal is to prioritize a good experience for all children at their dental visit. We work with children with a variety of special needs, which includes: Autism Spectrum Disorders, Sensory Disorders, Attention Deficit Disorder, mentally-handicapped, learning disabilities, Down Syndrome, Cerebral Palsy, Spina Bifida, Respiratory diseases, and hearing and visual impairments. Please call us ahead of time to help us accommodate your child. We want to hear how we can best serve your child.

Some examples of how we can serve your child in a unique fashion:

  • Providing the family a virtual online and physical tour of the office.
  • Encouraging a familiarizing “happy” visit before the dental examination appointment.
  • Delaying radiographs, “X-rays,” until a second visit.
  • Using a blanket or lead vest for a comforting pressure during the dental examination.
  • Using a protective stabilization or papoose board for selective patients.
  • Using a toothbrush or spin brush before using a prophylaxis cup with pumice.
  • Recommending electric toothbrushes that use vibration and noise to desensitize the patient for future dental appointments.
  • Dimming the room lights to provide a soothing environment.
  • Playing your child’s favorite song or movie. We have Netflix!
  • Holding the child’s IPad or game system during the exam.
  • Welcoming parents and friends in the treatment room.
  • Watching an older child model good behavior during a dental examination.
  • Utilizing age-appropriate and “kid-friendly” language.
  • Bringing a favorite toy to hold for the visit.
  • Giving one instruction at a time, and actively listening.
  • Providing early or late visits to accommodate the child at their best behavior.
  • Keeping appointment short.

Why go to a Pediatric Dentist?

“We believe in optimal oral health for all children.”

According to the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry, pediatric dentistry is an age-defined specialty that provides primary and comprehensive preventive and therapeutic oral health care for infants and children through adolescence, including those with special health care needs. Our profession encompasses a variety of disciplines, techniques, procedures and skills that share a common basis with other dental specialists, but are modified and adapted to the unique requirements of children.

Pediatricians, physicians, general dentists, dental specialists, and other allied medical professions refer to us for advanced and dependable dental care for children. We would be honored to care for your child!

Two to three years of Advanced Pediatric Specialty Dental Training includes several disciplines:

  • Advanced behavioral guidance.
  • Care for medically and developmentally compromised and disabled individuals.
  • Meticulous supervision of orofacial growth and development.
  • Limited tooth movement and dentoalveolar expansion.
  • Cavity prevention and educational techniques.
  • Variety of sedation techniques.
  • Pharmacological management.
  • Hospital dentistry and privileges.
  • Restorative and esthetic dentistry.
  • Child psychology.
  • Emergency dentistry and treatment of dental trauma.
  • Evidence-based dentistry and philosophy.
  • Increased knowledge base of other traditional fields of dentistry.
  • Maintain updated certifications in Basic Life Support and Pediatric Advanced Life Support.

Nutritional Counseling:

Westerville Pediatric Dental uses every interaction with your child to educate about proper food choices for overall health, and of course, teeth.

What causes cavities?

“The most important factor promoting cavities is the frequency of sugar consumption.”

Our main fight is between sugar and the “sugar bugs” (cavity-causing bacteria) that produce acid to produce cavities. The frequency of a sugar exposure is critical. Each time we have a sugary snack, our mouth has a “decay time” of about 30 minutes. This is why constant snacking or grazing is the most common cause of cavities. The more frequent the “decay time,” the more likely acid is being produced to fuel dental decay. Westerville Pediatric Dental can help to fight decay by applying a fluoride varnish, teaching our patients a proper brushing and flossing technique for home care, and reinforcing nutritional habits.

To limit exposure time of sugar and minimize risk of forming cavities, plain tap water is the beverage of choice through out the day. Small amounts of juice and milk should be given only at mealtimes or snack times. Cavities form more readily when sugar-containing drinks and snacks are consumed in between meal and nap times.

Common hidden sugars in drinks and snacks include:

  • Juice and flavored water.
  • Pop and energy drinks.
  • Flavored milk (chocolate and strawberry).
  • Gummies (even vitamins), caramel, and sour candy.
  • Dried Fruit and even fresh fruit and berries.
  • Pretzels, chips and crackers.

Baby Bottle Tooth Decay is now known at Early Childhood Decay:

Infants are not immune to cavities so it is very important to help lower their risk for cavities as well. The American Academy of Pediatrics displays research that breast-feeding infants provides general health, nutritional, developmental, psychological, social, economic, and environmental advantages while significantly reducing the risk for a large number of acute and chronic diseases. Breast milk is uniquely superior in providing the best possible nutrition for infants, yet it can be related to developing cavities. Formula and fruit juices also contribute to the formation of cavities. Your pediatrician recommends children one through six years of age consume no more than four to six ounces (one-half to two-thirds of a cup) of fruit juice per day, from an open cup, and as part of a meal or snack. It is important to remember to care for teeth as we deliver nutrients to help infants grow.

Reasons for increased risk of cavities in infants:

  • Nighttime bottle-feeding with juice, formula, chocolate milk, or anything other than water.
  • Frequent nighttime bottle-feedings with cow milk and/or mixing breast milk through out.
  • Breast-feeding at-will, and feedings greater than seven times daily after the child’s first birthday.
  • Frequent use of a sippy or no-spill cup with sugary drinks including fruit juices.
  • Frequent (especially greater than three) in between meal consumption of sugar-containing snacks or drinks.
  • Parents with untreated cavities, and accidentally sharing saliva on food utensils.
  • Inadequate brushing or wiping teeth with the corner of a wet cloth with a smear of toothpaste.

Dr. Richards understands providing nutrition for your child can present unique challenges. We believe in helping find a balance, and fortunately there are several options if tooth decay is developed in early childhood.