Developmental disabilities such as autism, cerebral palsy, Down syndrome, and mental retardation are present during childhood or adolescence and last a lifetime. They affect the mind, the body, and the skills people use in everyday life: thinking, talking, and self-care. People with disabilities often need extra help to achieve and maintain good health. Oral health is no exception.
Over the past three decades, a trend toward deinstitutionalization has brought people of all ages and levels of disability into the fabric of our communities. Today, approximately 80 percent of those with developmental disabilities are living in community-based group residences or at home with their families. People with disabilities and their caregivers now look to providers in the community for dental services.
Providing oral care to patients with developmental disabilities requires adaptation of the skills you use every day. In fact, most people with mild or moderate developmental disabilities can be treated successfully in the general practice setting. This booklet presents an overview of physical, mental, and behavioral challenges common in these patients and offers strategies for providing oral care.