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Complications of oral hygiene for the blind

By Robert B.

Proper health care is always a concerned for the disabled. An issue or particular concern is oral hygiene for the blind. Blind patients and oral hygiene have always been an issue for families and residential schools.

Children in residential school settings rarely have the opportunity for formal dental care at the school site. Multi-disabled children, especially the blind, have a great need for oral health care.

Maryland School for the Blind (MSB), is a level VI (residential) school. There are approximately 185 children, ranging in age from infancy to 21.

Their oral health care needs are compounded by their disorders, medications and lack of oral hygiene at home. Eighty percent of the children are residential and rely on dorm personnel, teachers and aides for oral hygiene care.

MSB established a dental clinic on the premises to accomplish the following objective: improve oral health status during the school year.

Written permission is received from parents/legal guardians of the students. Annual screenings are performed by a community provider and needed treatment rendered.

The children require frequent maintenance visits and weekly oral hygiene intervention by the dental hygienist. Throughout the school year, prophylaxis, restorative and evaluation of the oral tissue are performed.

Improvement of plaque index, bleeding index and gingival tissue has been documented at each visit. Deterioration of oral health status is seen after the children return from extended stays at home (holiday and summer).

Dental care is not a priority to families of the multi-disabled child. Improvement in oral health status can be achieved through on-site oral health care. More awareness of the dental care needs of these children is necessary.

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