Adults with disabilities can have challenges in maintaining optimal oral health: poor daily oral hygiene, dry mouth conditions, tobacco use, diets heavy in sugar and white flour, as well as a lack of access to professional dental care for prevention and restoration services.
Adults with disabilities may have one or more of these conditions that interfere with maintaining good oral health:
- Inability to speak or understand directions
- Hypersensitivity – smell, taste, sound, touch
- Visual Impairment
- Hearing Impairment
- Anxiety Disorder
- Emotional Disorder
- Movement Disorder
- Seizure Disorder
- Gag Reflex
Most of these conditions can limit effective techniques for good oral health. Thorough toothbrushing and flossing requires manual skills, abilities to understand directions and self-discipline. Making healthy food choices and maintaining healthy eating habits also requires abilities to remember which choices are healthier and self-discipline to limit foods and beverages that increase the risk of oral disease. Some find smoking and chewing tobacco are habits difficult to change. Dry mouth conditions most often result from medication side effects, mouth breathing and Sjogren’s Syndrome.
Oral Health Kansas offers public awareness materials for agencies and individuals addressing oral health for adults with disabilities. These include monthly brief articles for agencies newsletters, Tips & Tricks for Oral Health, posters that serve to bring attention to emergency care and oral disease warning signs. The staff development workshop, Healthy Smiles for Everyone, is available to all agencies and centers that serve adults with disabilities. In addition, OHK continues to search for and promote products designed to alleviate some of the conditions that hinder oral hygiene for people with disabilities.
To improve the oral health of adults with disabilities
- To advocate for oral health services for people with disabilities with Kansas Legislators, state government leaders, and community agencies serving adults with disabilities
- Provide staff and caregiver oral health workshops to increase the knowledge, skills and confidence to support practices that maintain good oral health for adults with disabilities
Increase access to professional dental care for adult with disabilities by offer continuing education opportunities
- Involve Kansans in planning and program development by facilitating Kansas Oral Health Council for People with Disabilities
Staff, caregiver and community education:
- Healthy Smiles for Everyone workshop, available by contacting Oral Health Kansas
- Healthy Smiles for Everyone Guide – Oral Health Care for Adults: A Guide for Better Oral Health: Oral Health Kansas- AVAILABLE SOON!
- Dental Care Everyday -- A Caregiver’s Guide: NICDR
- Brushing the Teeth of Others – DVD and written instructions: OHK and Kansas Dental Association- AVAILABLE SOON!
Dental, Medical and Disability Professionals: