Teaching Dental Hygiene Routines At Valley Village

In our day program at Valley Village, a Daily Living activity focused on dental hygiene. Individuals with developmental challenges are at a disadvantage when it comes to oral health – after a lifetime of minimal oral care, often, many adults with developmental and intellectual challenges are missing teeth. Lapses in regular dental visits and proper oral care can result in a need for specialized dental attention, chopped or pureed foods, and in some cases, clients need to be fed through a gastric tube directly into their stomachs. Flossing is also a particular challenge for our population. To maintain the whole health of each person, proper oral health is very critical!

At Valley Village, we understand the direct correlation between oral health and general health and well-being. We provide two visits to the dentist per year for each Valley Village resident, as well as additional care for any oral emergencies or spontaneous dental needs that arise. Some of our clients require specialized dental care or even sedation in order to maintain their overall oral health, and we work with a primary care dentist who specializes in both pediatric dentistry and special needs clients to make sure their individual needs are addressed.

We take as much preventative care as possible, with caretakers working with our residents on brushing technique and addressing the range of dental needs, which can look like everything from using electronic toothbrushes, special toothpaste, and often a special rinse to prevent gingivitis. During the lockdown phase of the pandemic, some of our residents were even brushing and using this special gingivitis rinse after every single meal as a preventative measure. A big win for one of our residential homes was that throughout the lockdown, not a single resident developed cavities from their diligence with their at home dental care!

The way a person feels about their smile has an impact on their social interaction, communication, self-esteem, and self-image. We take a person-centric approach to each of our individual clients to address their specific needs. In 2014, we shot an interview with one of our residents to hear firsthand how she feels about going to the dentist and the ways she’s learned how to take care of her smile.

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