Dental Care for Individuals with Intellectual/Developmental Disabilities (IDD)
By Leanna Gray, MHA, DentaQuest Outreach Coordinator
Good oral health is important to all of us. Getting regular dental care will help prevent problems and keep your teeth healthy. We at DentaQuest know that it can make a big change in the quality of life, especially for a person with a disability. DentaQuest is an oral health care company with a mission to improve the oral health of all. DentaQuest currently provides dental coverage for those enrolled in Medicaid within the state of Louisiana. We are here to help you get the dental care you need by providing information and resources. Soon, adults 21 years and older with IDD who are enrolled in a Louisiana Medicaid Waiver Program will have comprehensive dental coverage. Now more than ever, it’s important to know your benefits and how to use them.
It is also a great time to be aware of tips that can help a person with a disability keep up with good oral health care. The following are ways to help those with intellectual and developmental disabilities feel more comfortable and improve their oral health.
Tips for Helping Them Have a Healthy Mouth:
1. Take the person’s medical history with you.
It’s important to tell the dentist about good and bad things that happened at other dental visits. Also, a list of medications they are currently taking. This way the dentist will be prepared to address the person’s needs. Remember to take their ID card with you as well.
2. At home, brush and floss every day at the same time of the day in the same location.
Regular routine is important. Explain each step of brushing and flossing before you do it. Show them how you brush and floss so the person can see what you will be doing. Play music or let them hold a favorite toy to help them relax.
3. Help them with flossing and make the task more pleasant.
Try different kinds of floss to find which one the person likes. It might help to use a floss holder or a power flosser. It’s usually easier to sit or stand behind the person while brushing and flossing.
4. Use oral health tools that are most convenient for the person’s needs.
A power brush may be easier to use if the noise and feeling do not bother them. Toothpaste bothers some people who may have swallowing problems, so it is okay to just use water. For people who can’t rinse after brushing, give them a drink of water or wipe their mouth with a finger wrapped in gauze.
It is always helpful to ask your dentist for more tips that help make sure the person with a disability is getting their oral health needs met.
If you or someone you know is a DentaQuest member, call DentaQuest Member Services Monday thru Friday from 7AM to 7PM at 1-800-685-0143 (translation services available in other languages) for assistance with:
General information about benefits
Finding a dental provider
Making an appointment
Referrals to Case Management for individuals with special needs
Also, please feel free to refer to our website: DentaQuest.com/Louisiana
If you need assistance enrolling in LA Medicaid or have questions about what dental plans and benefits may be available to you, please contact Louisiana Medicaid Customer Service at 855-229-6848 (TTY: 855-526-3346).