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Special Needs Dentistry

Why Smile Wonders?

Proper dental care is even more important for children with special medical, physical or behavioral conditions that require special needs dentistry.  A special needs dentist utilizes adaptations to dental care beyond routine. Dr. Rishita Jaju has gained a unique perspective into the lives and treatment of children with medical or behavioral special needs during her time as a Children’s Hospital LEND Fellow (Leadership Education in Neurodevelopmental Disabilities). Her experience and passion lies in providing collaborative and comprehensive oral health care for patients with craniofacial anomalies such as Cleft Lip and Palate, Cerebral Palsy, Autism Spectrum Disorders, ADHD, Down Syndrome, Neural Tube defects, Epilepsy, traumatic brain injury and various other congenital conditions. Our office is located on the ground floor level with exterior entrance that is wheelchair accessible. We accommodate our appointment lengths and times to best suite our patient cooperation.

Here are some examples of customized accommodations:

A Social Schedule is available for children that would benefit from a familiar routine.

Mid-morning appointment for a child that has a history of Asthma to help them after their morning airway congestion is cleared.

Appointments can be scheduled in the same room, same time, same dental assistant at each visit to establish routines and familiarity.

Visits can be split to make short quick visits to reduce anxiety or longer appointment times allowed for children that need a little bit longer to get settled and able to cooperate.

Collaboration With Other Providers

Dr. Rishita at Smile Wonders works with area Developmental Pediatricians, Occupational therapists, or Speech Language Pathologists to provide a ‘Visual Social Schedule’, at home ‘Oral stimulatory exercises’ or coordinates appointment with ‘Sensory Diet’ prior to dental appointments. This personalized activity plan gives children the sensory input they need to reduce anxiety, remain attentive, focused and organized throughout their day.

Appointments

We encourage the family to attend a desensitization appointment as a “meet and greet” consultation to allow the child to experience the dentist in a non-threatening first meeting and prepare for their upcoming dental appointment. When dental procedures such as cleanings, cavity fillings or other work are needed, we customize them to the child’s tolerance and needs. We find that scheduling more-frequent low-pressure visits are easier to handle than one large appointment. Parents and caregivers are encouraged to accompany their child in the treatment areas for comfort and familiarity.

Some patients may benefit from early morning appointments so that they are fresh, most rested, and relaxed. Some patients do better mid-day as their normal medications may get a chance to work and we do not interrupt their morning routine. While, some patients would like to come at a time when there are no other patients in the reception area. We take all the preferences in consideration to set up for the most successful dental visit.

Quiet Room

Many children with special needs feel safe in their own room and defined safe space at Smile Wonders. There are no other children playing and distracting or causing over stimulation. They can wear headphones and connect to televisions mounted to the ceiling or listen to their favorite music. It helps them to relax and avoid having to listen to the normal sounds associated with a dental office. They are also free to enjoy our other play areas.

Many children are referred to us with most complex medical conditions.

When restorative treatment is needed, Dr. Rishita Jaju has ability to provide dental care in various modalities.

Sedation Dentistry Options

  • Children that have mild behavioral and cooperation concerns, we can use Nitrous oxide (laughing gas) to help with reducing the gag reflex and level of anxiety.
  • Children that have moderate level of behavioral concerns and extensive dental needs can be treated with use of in-office IV sedation under the supervision of our Board Certified Anesthesiologist – Dr. Andy Tran of Olympic Anesthesia, PC.
  • Children that have medical conditions that require hospital dentistry, can be treated by Dr. Jaju at the Children’s National Medical Center in Washington, DC in collaboration with their general anesthesia team to provide safe and quality dental care.

Specialized Equipment

The dental equipment and techniques are also adapted for children with special needs, such as those who cannot stand or sit motionless, creating a more pleasant visit to the dentist. Recommendations for modified brushing routine and tricks, as well as frequency schedule are provided for each child.