What is Special Needs Dentistry?
Special Needs Dentistry, also known as special care dentistry, is a branch of dentistry that provides oral care services for people with physical, medical, developmental, or cognitive conditions which limit their ability to receive routine dental care.
Who are considered patients with special needs?
Can be considered patients with special needs people with Autism, Alzheimer's disease, Down syndrome, Cerebral Palsy, Spinal Cord Injuries and countless other conditions or injuries that can make standard dental procedures more difficult.
Choosing a Dentist for Your Care
Dentists and dental specialists (endodontists, periodontists, orthodontists) are trained to provide care specifically in dentistry, regardless of who the patient is. This means dentists can perform a clinical examination, carry out procedures to diagnose and treat oral diseases, and provide restorations such as fillings or crowns. It is only in recent years that an increasing number of continuing education programs have been developed to help dentists learn techniques for providing dentistry in more understanding ways to patients with special needs.
If you or someone you are caring for is a patient with special needs, choose a dentist capable of taking a different approach to treatment based on what those needs and circumstances are. The dentist you choose should have or be willing to develop a complete understanding of the disability, illness or special need that warrants different consideration during dental treatment.*
Dr. Di Giorgio, a dentist that is part of Dr. Sharp team, has experience in this field since 1999.
Bellow, you can see her journey with the special population:
Born in Sao Paulo, Brazil, Dr. Di Giorgio first earned her degree at USP- The University of Sao Paulo, where she graduated in the class of 2003.
During the dental school, Dr. Di Giorgio volunteered at a well-known clinic for special needs patients named CAPE, which receives referrals from all over Latin America. She had worked as an assistant professor for two years at APCD post-graduate program in patients with special needs.
Dr. Di Giorgio had her practice in Sao Paulo, Brazil, within a multidisciplinary clinic focused on treating people with special needs where she worked for 10 years before moving to the United States in 2013.
She also had worked with home care for special needs population in cases where patients were unable to come to the office. In some cases, she has treated patients in the hospital setting under general anesthesia.
While in Brazil, she specialized in Functional MaxilloFacial Orthopedics, a field of Orthodontics. Her interest in special needs patients is the reason she got involved in functional maxillofacial orthopedics, working with removable appliances to improve patients’ oral functions, such as breathing, swallowing, and chewing.
Once in the United States, she concluded a 2 years Post-Graduate Program in Advanced Education in General at the New York University - Lutheran. The program was dedicated exclusively for patients with Intellectual or Developmental Disabilities and, she earned her Doctor of Dental Surgery degree in 2017. During her training and career, Dr. Di Giorgio has performed nationally, and internationally extensive research in the field of special needs dentistry and orthodontics, publishing several articles, including a chapter in the book “Pediatric Pain - Current Aspects” talking about Intellectual Disability and Dental Pain Management. She also has been a speaker, presenting the results of her research and clinical experience in various meetings.
Who Are Dental Patients with Special Needs?
Dental patients with special needs often – but not always – have higher rates of poor oral hygiene. As a result, they also have a higher incidence of gum diseases and cavities than people in the general population. Those considered dental patients with special needs represent individuals with a broad range of conditions that do not necessarily relate to oral health.
For example, dental patients with special needs include the following:
What Dental Patients with Special Needs Actually Need
First and foremost, you or the person with special needs for whom you provide care need a qualified and experienced dentist. Any other requirements thereafter will be specific to the individual and the particular illness, condition or disability.
Among the accommodations that dental patients with special needs may require are the following:
- An efficient and systematic approach to the examination and treatment so that appointments are short, when necessary
- Knowledge of the medical, physical, mental or behavioral condition in order to better manage the appointment and oral health needs
- More assistants during examinations and treatment procedures to better control and monitor the patient and the appointment
- Sedation dentistry to promote patient comfort if longer appointments are required
- Flexible appointment scheduling
- Caregiver or case manager involvement in treatment planning, providing instructions and information, and while performing dental procedures.*
If you need special needs care, do not hesitate to contact us for an appointment. We will be glad to treat you.