Developmental disabilities and dental health

Many adults with developmental disabilities cannot tend to their own dental needs and therefore require assistance from caregivers. Research has shown that somewhere there is a disconnect between the caregivers of adults with developmental disabilities and the at home dental care that adults with developmental disabilities receive.  Because of this there has been a call not only for expanding access to dental care for special needs adults, but also to provide support for caregivers. Read on to find out more about the lack of in home dental care for adults with developmental disabilities.


Because special needs adults cannot provide proper dental self care, and require the support of caregivers to brush and floss, they tend to have a high prevalence of cavities, gum disease, and tooth loss. In a recent study, 808 Massachusetts caregivers, including paid caregivers and family caregivers, were surveyed. The study participants had extensive experience providing care to adults with developmental disabilities (DD) in either family homes or supervised residences. It was found that although the frequency of brushing and flossing among adults with DD was higher in this study than in previous studies, many still did not meet American Dental Association recommendations. It was reported that flossing proved a significant challenge, with 63 percent of caregivers reporting that behavioral problems were the major factor inhibiting oral health care routines. Survey results were as follows:

Although over 72 percent of paid caregivers reported having received formal group training in oral health care, under 7 percent of family caregivers reported having received equivalent training.  According to researchers, innovative strategies are necessary to ensure that developmentally disabled adults are provided with proper at-home oral health care.

About Your Lake Forest Dentist:

Aside from providing dependable general and restorative dentistry services to our community, Dr. James Fondriest also holds respected academic appointments at the Pankey Institute in Key Biscayne, FL, and the Spear Institute in Scottsdale, AZ, and he is a former adjunct associate Professor in the Department of Prosthodontics at the University of Florida Dental School. At Lake Forest Dental Arts, Dr. Fondriest combines his impressive array of experience with modern technology and caring, compassionate, knowledgeable staff, and we proudly serve patients from all surrounding communities. To schedule a consultation, call our office today at (847) 234-0517.