UW School of Dentistry

Special Needs

This website provides information for health care professionals, parents and caregivers to assist them in managing the oral health of children and adults with special needs and disabilities.

  • Nationally: 78% of children with special health care needs were reported to need dental treatment and/or an examination in the prior 12 months; a need second only to the need for prescription medicine [1]
  • Many individuals with special health care needs, chronic conditions and disabilities do not have access to regular and ongoing dental care.
  • Dental disease prevention, keeping teeth and gums healthy, is a team effort of the person, dental and medical professionals, and parents/caregivers. Care of teeth and gums at home, good nutrition and other strategies are important; tips are included in the parent/caregiver fact sheets.
  • Stay tuned for the Washington State Department of Health – Oral Health Program monograph with detailed information.

1. Lewis, C., Robertson, A.S., Phelps, S. Unmet Dental Care Needs Among Children With Special Health Care Needs: Implications for the Medical Home. Pediatrics 2005 116; e426-e431.