ADAA View Course

Helping the Special Needs Patient Maintain Good Oral Health (AGD 750)

Presenter: Janet Jaccarino, CDA, RDH, MA


Poor oral hygiene and dental disease may be more prevalent in patients with disabilities due to the effects of their condition and medication on the oral environment. Malocclusion and/or teeth with developmental defects, oral habits such as pouching of food, and even poor physical coordination contribute to poor oral hygiene. Some patients cannot grasp a toothbrush or reach their mouth; their lack of ability for self–care may have serious health implications. Assessment and education skills are essential to develop a home care routine that patients and/or caregivers can follow to help prevent disease and maintain oral health. A daily preventive program must be effective, simple to use, and low in cost.1 This course provides dental professionals with information to help the patient with special needs and the caregiver attain the appropriate knowledge to treat and maintain good oral health.


Janet Jaccarino, CDA, RDH, MA, is retired from Rutgers University where she taught dental hygiene and dental assisting. She was an Assistant Professor in the Department of Allied Dental Education, in the School of Health Related Professions at Rutgers University.


After completing this course, the dental professional should be able to:

•Assess patient needs based on oral conditions and abilities. 
•Develop home care techniques and modifications that will best fit patient abilities.
•Provide instruction for oral self–care to patients with physical or mild to moderate mental disabilities.
•Provide education and oral care instruction to caregivers of dependent patients.
•Motivate patients and caregivers to maintain oral health.
•Aid in the preventive of infection and tooth loss.
•Avoid the need for extensive treatment that patients may not be able to tolerate due to their physical or mental condition.
•Incorporate the use of sealants, antimicrobial agents, fluoride, and diet counseling as part of a total prevention program.
•Encourage regular dental visits to evaluate effectiveness of the program.


The ADAA has an obligation to disseminate knowledge in the field of dentistry. Sponsorship of a continuing education program by the ADAA does not necessarily imply endorsement of a particular philosophy, product or technique.

The ADAA cautions participants taking this course on the hazards of using limited knowledge when integrating new techniques into their practices.

Credits earned upon completion of the course may be used to meet DANB’s Recertification Requirements.


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