Special Healthcare Needs Dentistry for Denver, CO | Iris Pediatric Dentistry | Pediatric Dentistry
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Our Services / Special Healthcare Needs Dentistry

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Special Healthcare Needs Dentistry services offered in Denver, CO

Leslie Murray, DMD, and the team at Iris Pediatric Dentistry in Denver, Colorado, love working with kids of all ages, but helping support dental health in children with special needs is especially rewarding. Families in the area rely on Dr. Murray for special healthcare needs dentistry, an area of practice where she truly excels. To learn more, book a one-on-one visit today online or over the phone.

Special Healthcare Needs Dentistry Q & A

What is special healthcare needs dentistry?

According to the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry, special healthcare needs are defined as “any physical, mental, sensory, behavioral, cognitive, or emotional impairment or limiting condition that requires medical management, healthcare intervention, and/or use of specialized services or programs.” 

Dr. Murray enjoys working with kids with special needs. She takes the time to get to know each child in her care and to understand their strengths and challenges. Focus for each visit depends on family goals and the patient’s specific dental risks, with each visit tailored to each patient’s needs. Often this is a creative and adaptive process.

Dr. Murray enjoys spending 1 day per week with her dental and child life colleagues at Children’s Hospital Colorado, where she teaches in the residency program, and she ensures she is staying up on new and innovative ways to make care more accessible and comfortable for all patients.

What are examples of conditions that require special needs dentistry?

Each child is unique, and even kids with the same diagnosis will have varying dental health needs. Some examples of conditions that fall under the umbrella of special needs dentistry include:

  • Autism
  • Cerebral palsy
  • Epilepsy
  • Down syndrome
  • Hearing impairment
  • Cleft lip or palate

This is far from a comprehensive list. Rest assured that no matter what needs your child has in regard to dental care, Dr. Murray offers caring, compassionate solutions.

What are some techniques used in special needs dentistry?

The most important step in meeting your child’s needs is the process of sitting down and getting to know them. This gives Dr. Murray the information she needs to structure a treatment plan. 

In some cases, kids have dental anxiety and simply need a little more time to ask questions and learn what to expect. Allowing them to hold some of the tools used in exams and cleanings often helps, as does explaining each step of the process in detail. Dr. Murray likes to use this technique, called tell-show-do, with all of her patients to make them feel more comfortable.

Sometimes kids benefit from demonstrations by Dr. Murray, her assistants, their siblings or their caregivers, where they can observe someone else get similar care in a way. This can allow exposure to the procedure in a less threatening way.

Often children respond well to patterns and counting to help give context to the visit. One example could be counting Dr. Murray’s fingers with the mirror, then their stuffed animal’s fingers with the mirror, then their own fingers, and finally their own teeth.

Dr. Murray is careful to observe your child’s verbal and non-verbal communication, and allow them to guide the methods utilized during a visit, while working with families to ensure  caregivers are comfortable and feel supported in their journey of caring for their child’s teeth. Often desensitization visits are scheduled to allow a child to return to the office several times throughout the year to allow them to gain comfort and confidence in the office, and to break the appointment into smaller more manageable steps for the child.

General anesthesia at Children’s Hospital Colorado can be utilized if needed and appropriate, and can even sometimes be scheduled in combination with other services for children at higher risk for anesthesia.

Dr. Murray has the skills and training to deliver excellent dental care to kids with all types of special needs, including those who are nonverbal or in skilled nursing facilities. To learn more about her approach to these services, call the office to set up a visit, or schedule using the easy online booking tool.