Article: Volume 44 Number 2 Page 114 - February 2017

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  Dent Update 2017; 44: 114-130

Special Care Dentistry:  Periodontal Treatment in Patients with Learning Disabilities Part 1- Prevention

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Abstract: People with learning disabilities are reported to have a significantly increased incidence and severity of periodontal disease when compared to their non-disabled counterparts. The reasons for this are numerous and may include perpetuating medical conditions, personal and social circumstances, as well as poor dental access and education. Uncontrolled or advanced periodontal disease may not only cause tooth loss and its ensuing consequences but may also affect medical health, initiating or causing deterioration of systemic disease. Despite being a significant public health issue, very few data exist in current literature about the periodontal needs and treatment of patients with learning disabilities. This may largely be because research in this group is difficult and the spectrum of learning disabilities is vast. This paper aims to report on the available data in order to produce suggestions for care. This paper forms a two part series, the first of which explores preventive strategies that may be used by general dental practitioners, as well as specialists within the field, to reduce the burden of periodontal disease within this specific patient group.

Clinical relevance: Large health inequalities exist across the population, with those with learning disabilities exhibiting much higher levels of periodontal disease and unmet dental need. Helping to reduce these inequalities is the responsibility of all dental professionals.

Author notes: Shazia Kaka, BDS, MJDF(RCS), Specialty Registrar (STR) in Sedation and Special Care Dentistry, Oxfordshire Healthcare Foundation Trust ( and Chris Dickinson, BDS, LDS(RCS), MSC(Pros Dent), DPDH(RCS), DipDSed, MFDS(RCS), Consultant in Special Care Dentistry, Guy’s Hospital and Honorary Senior Specialist Clinical Teacher, King’s College London Dental Institute, Bessemer Road, Denmark Hill, London SE5 9RW, UK.

Objective: To increase awareness and understanding of the reasons why periodontal disease is more prevalent in patients with learning disabilities.