- More than 5 million children in the U.S. have special health care needs.
- Dental care is the leading unmet health care need for children with special needs.
- Children and youth with special needs are predisposed to oral conditions that need proper dental care to prevent or treat including tooth anomalies, teeth grinding, gingival overgrowth, tooth decay and early, severe gum disease.
- 67% of parents of children with special needs report that dentists lack necessary knowledge about how to treat children with special needs or that dentists are unwilling to treat their children.
- Many dental offices are not equipped to provide care to patients with developmental or intellectual disabilities due to the cost of care, lack of specialized training, inaccessibility to children in wheelchairs or with physical limitations, and other barriers.
It is not uncommon for non-verbal children and youth to have significant and painful tooth decay that goes undiagnosed for far too long. One of our partners shared the story of a non-verbal teenager with intellectual disabilities who began having unexplained violent episodes. He was placed on antipsychotic drugs because no one had looked in his mouth to discover that he had an abscessed tooth. Once his dental condition was treated, the violent episodes stopped. There are thousands of other children with similar needs whose dental conditions are not being met.
Recognizing that dental health is critical to overall health, America’s ToothFairy is committed to increasing its support for programs benefiting children with intellectual and/or developmental disabilities.
The Special Kids Program supports initiatives such as:
- Caregiver education
- Educational materials and curriculum development
- Fundraisers and programs providing oral care supplies for children with special needs (i.e. mouthguards, toothbrushes, toothpaste, etc.)
- Dental student engagement and outreach
- Engagement of volunteer dental professionals
- Services for children in need of restorative care
- Clinical programs that increase access to care for children with special needs
- Partnership with Special Olympics and participation in state and national events
- Advocacy and awareness raising
Learn more about how you can help by contacting Sim Frazier at firstname.lastname@example.org or 704-719-9949.
In addition to our Dental Resource Program non-profit clinical members, many of which serve children with special needs, we also collaborate with: