Oral Health and Special Needs

Oral Health and Special Needs

Special Needs Require Special Care

A person with a disability wants a healthy mouth, just like anyone else.

But Medicaid only covers extractions. Disabled individuals may have trouble expressing their pain or receiving treatment in a typical care setting.

Parents worry that their children will outlive them and their dental health care plans.

Don't just take our word for it - this information comes from focus groups we've organized with SupportOne, Inc. and Richmond Residential - two Richmond nonprofits that help people with intellectual disabilities live independent lives.

Are you a parent or caregiver of a person with special health care needs? View more information below or check out our special needs resources.

Our programs help advance policy, education and the consumer voice.

Thanks to a grant from the Virginia Board for People with Disabilities, we partnered with residential homes and the VCU School of Dentistry in 2014 to train dental providers across Virginia to treat individuals with special needs (view photos). We are also working with state agencies to provide training for dental providers on oral health care for individuals with special health care needs. And, we're collecting firsthand stories about oral health experiences from patients and caregivers to share their voices with policy makers.

View our Event Calendar to see if there is a dental provider training or community forum near you.

Join Us

Sign up for our email list below to stay informed about upcoming special needs program activities.

Getting the Care You Need

Expressing medical needs up front can help ensure a smooth checkup. We've created a basic list of questions and information for the caregivers and parents of special needs patients. Looking for a provider? The Virginia Department of Health hosts a dental directory that allows you to search providers who treat individuals with various special needs.

Making an appointment: 

  • Tell the scheduler about any medical conditions or medications
  • Ask if you should speak with anyone in the office about special treatment
  • Share what the patient is afraid of, or what helps them when they're in the dental chair
  • Talk about the visit beforehand, but avoid words like "shot" or "drill" 
  • Ask about sealants to prevent tooth decay

At home:

  • Make brushing part of a daily routine
  • Don't share cups or utensils
  • Try different toothbrushes and toothpastes
  • Drink water, not juice
  • Don't use sugary snacks as rewards

For more suggestions check out these tip sheets from the University of Washington School of Dentistry.

Contact Us

4200 Innslake Drive, Suite 103, Glen Allen, VA 23060  |  804.269.8720  |
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