Director’s message: Routine dental care ensures overall well-being

Corinne Van Osdel, DDS

Corinne Van Osdel, DDS

Everyone should have twice yearly dental exams.

But some individuals may require a personalized, patient-centered approach to maintain optimal oral hygiene. Providing this approach is our goal at the Munroe-Meyer Institute’s dental clinic. At the clinic, we help educate both caregivers and patients about the importance of consistent oral hygiene practices, fostering a collaborative effort to ensure the overall well-being of our clients.

Patients with intellectual and developmental disabilities often face unique challenges related to dental problems. Moreover, difficulties in maintaining proper oral hygiene routines may contribute to an increased risk of cavities, gum disease and other dental concerns. Behavioral factors, such teeth grinding or sensory sensitivities, can also impact oral health.

To achieve good oral and dental health, especially with individuals who may face challenges in areas such as communication and motor skills, caregivers play a crucial role in assisting with daily oral care routines. Certain adaptations, such as using specialized toothbrushes or incorporating sensory-friendly oral care products, can improve the experience for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities, as well.

Regular dental check-ups are essential to everyone to address any emerging issues promptly. The absence of regular dental care can have profound consequences. Untreated dental cavities, gum disease and infections can lead to pain, difficulty eating and tooth loss.

Additionally, oral health is a part of systemic health, and untreated dental problems contribute to cardiovascular issues and other systemic diseases, such as diabetes. Lack of access to care can result in a significant financial burden because neglected oral health concerns often require more extensive and costly interventions.

Overall, the impact of not having dental care extends beyond the confines of the mouth and affects an individual’s well-being and quality of life. At MMI, we strive to improve this aspect of our clients’ lives, as we do in so many other areas.