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Key Points
 
Dental care is the most common unmet need in the special needs population.
 
For children with special health care needs, there are many potential barriers to accessing dental care.
 
Transportation, financial burden, insurance concerns, and professional availability are only some of the barriers families have to overcome to receive dental care.
 
Pediatric health professionals should help families to prioritize and address their child's oral health.
 
Children with special health care needs are at increased risk for developing caries.
 
Maintaining proper oral hygiene is often difficult, so pediatricians should emphasize to caregivers that their efforts are important.
 
Efforts should be made to modify diet and medications to protect the teeth.
 
Examining for tooth anomalies, malocclusion, and unusual patterns of eruption is important in children with special health care needs.
 
The presence of gingival hyperplasia or bruxism should prompt referral to a pediatric dentist for evaluation.
 
Oro-facial trauma is more common among children with special health care needs.
 
Inability to cooperate with oral hygiene practices is very common among children with special health care needs.
 
The child's therapists and dentist can be a valuable resource for families.
 
A complete oral examination is necessary at every routine visit.
 
All children with special health care needs should be referred to a dentist by 12 months of age.
 
Most children with special health care needs qualify for coverage of dental services through the EPSDT program.
 
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