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Focus on Flossing This February: It’s National Children’s Dental Health Month!

toothbrushAlthough February is technically National Children’s Dental Health Month, oral health is important for people of all ages!

Did you know people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD) are more likely to have dental and oral health problems than the general population? A study conducted by Tufts University indicates that people with disabilities have a higher prevalence of oral disease such as dental cavities, gum disease, and missing teeth.

Caregivers play a key support role in helping people with I/DD make sure they have good oral hygiene practices like brushing teeth twice a day flossing regularly. However, only 6.4% of family caregivers have received any formal training to help their loved one keep his or her teeth clean

Fortunately, there are several resources out there for caregivers who want to learn how to help their family member improve his or her oral health. Here are a few that you may find interesting:

  • “Caregivers Role in Maintaining Good Oral Health for Individuals with IDD.” This HealthMeet webinar with Dr. Lisa Buda, DDS, overviews best oral health practices for caregivers.
  • Another HealthMeet webinar, “Oral Health, Disease, and Prevention”, focuses on preventative techniques to reduce oral health complications such as tooth decay and diseases
  • Exceptional Smiles – A caregiver’s guide to oral health, provides easy tips and videos for better brushing, lists of experienced special needs dentists, and information regarding common oral health problems people with disabilities experience.
  • Dental Care Every Day: A Caregiver’s Guide – This guide from the National Institute on Dental and Craniofacial Research provide guidance and strategies to caregivers on how to manage various oral health challenges common in people with developmental disabilities.
  • Special Olympics – A caregivers guide to good oral health for persons with special needs – This guide was created by the dentists and provides caregivers with step-by-step guides on how to help their family member brush teeth and floss. It includes ways to modify brushing/flossing techniques when needed.