Module 1: An Overview of Children with Special Health Care Needs and Oral Health
Special Care- Overview of CSHCN

1.2 General Health and Oral Health

General Health

Growth abnormalities, medical conditions, and associated medical treatments may adversely affect oral health.

  • Malocclusion and crowding of the teeth occur frequently in children with atypical development. Over 80 craniofacial syndromes exist that can affect oral development; 25 percent are associated with cognitive disabilities. 5
  • Children with chronic physical illnesses that limit movement or motor function face daily challenges in maintaining optimal oral health. 6
  • Medications containing sugar, special diets that require prolonged bottle feeding or snacking, and poor oral hygiene may increase risk for oral health problems for CSHCN. 6


Do children with special health care needs have unique oral health needs?
Larry Salzmann, D.D.S. responds.

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Oral Health

Oral diseases may also have a direct and negative impact on the general health of children with certain systemic or developmental problems or conditions. 7

Children with compromised immunity (e.g., leukemia, other malignancies) and certain cardiac conditions may be especially vulnerable to the effects of oral diseases. Children with cognitive disabilities or developmental or neuromuscular conditions who do not have the ability to understand and assume responsibility for or cooperate with preventive oral health practices may be at higher risk for complications or systemic infections from oral diseases. 7