Children and Adolescents with Special Health Care Needs
Children and adolescents with special health care needs are those who have or are at increased risk for a chronic physical, developmental, behavioral, or emotional condition and who also require health and related services of a type or amount beyond that required by children generally. Based on the 2017–2018 National Survey of Children's Health, more than 18 percent of U.S. children and adolescents ages 17 and under have special health care needs.
CSHCN State Forums
With HRSA grant support, ASTDD partnered with states for a few years prior to 2010 to conduct CSHCN Oral Health Forums. These forums were designed to improve access to dental care for CSHCN who face barriers. The forums brought together a diverse group of interested parties including dental professionals, medical providers, state Oral Health Program and CSHCN directors, child advocacy organizations, and families of CSHCN. State Action Plans to guide future activities were developed. The proceedings of these forums can be viewed by clicking on the links in the box to the right. Although the information is not current, they provide good examples of how to conduct forums and develop action plans.
Dental Care Every Day: A Caregiver's Guide
This booklet for those who care for a person with special health care needs provides information about how to help the person brush, floss, and have a healthy mouth. (2018)
A Healthy Mouth for People with Special Health Care Needs
This brochure for people with special health care needs provides information to promote good oral health. It offers tips for promoting oral health, including maintaining good oral hygiene practices, finding a dentist who will treat people with special health care needs, and planning dental visits. (2018)
Improving Access to Dental Services for Individuals with Developmental Disabilities
This report presents the extent to which oral health care is available for people with developmental disabilities. It discusses problems with access to oral health care, steps taken to address the problems, and causes of the problems. Recommendations for improving access to oral health care are provided. (2018)
Oral Health Convening Focusing on Children with Special Health Care Needs
This document provides information about the Oral Health Convening Focusing on Children with Special Health Care Needs held on March 18, 2018, in Washington, DC. The meeting brought together a multidisciplinary group of stakeholders to share expertise and insights related to increasing access to oral health care and improving the oral health of children with special health care needs. (2018)
Oral Health for People with Disabilites: Learning About Healthy Smiles in a Virtual World. Kathy Hunt, RDH, Oral Health Kansas (2021 NOHC Roundtable)
This course for oral health professionals consists of 16 modules covering topics related to providing oral health care for people with special health care needs. (2019)
Practical Oral Care for People with Developmental Disabilities
This series of booklets is designed to provide oral health professionals with information about oral health care for people with special health care needs. Strategies for care, covering topics such as mobility, neuromuscular problems, behavior problems, and sensory impairment, are discussed in the context of the dental office. Individual booklets on oral health and autism, cerebral palsy, Down syndrome, and intellectual disability offer practical guidance on adapting standard practice to accommodate those with special health care needs. A guide for caregivers and one on safe wheelchair transfer are included. (2012)
Quality Resource Guide: Introduction to Patients with Special Healthcare Needs
This document for oral health professionals provides information about dental treatment and prevention of oral disease for people with special health care needs. (2018)
Special Care: An Oral Health Professional's Guide to Serving Children with Special Health Care Needs
This curriculum provides oral health professionals with information about children with special health care needs and oral health, oral health supervision, prevention of oral disease, and behavior guidance. The curriculum can help fulfill dental education and dental hygiene education program requirements on the management and treatment of children with special health care needs. The curriculum can be taken for continuing education credit at no charge or for no credit (self-assessment). (2018)
Special Care: Oral Health Educational Resources
This series of handouts provides information for oral health professionals to use and to share with children with special health care needs to foster good oral hygiene practices. Oral health professionals can also use the handouts to improve their office set-up and services and assess families' satisfaction with services. (2018)
This tool kit provides oral health professionals with information about autism spectrum disorder to help them meet the oral health needs of children with the disorder. Contents include suggestions to prepare a dental office for a visit, a sample intake questionnaire, and frequently asked questions. A companion document, Dental Guide, is also available. The tool kit is meant to be used together with the guide. (2018)
Federal Agencies and National Organizations
Family Voices aims to achieve family-centered care for children and adolescents with special health care needs. Through a national network, Family Voices provides families with information to make informed decisions, advocates for improved policies, builds partnerships among professionals and families, and serves as a resource on family-centered oral health care.
The Maternal and Child Health Bureau provides leadership, partnership, and resources to advance the health of mothers, infants, children, and adolescents, including those with special health care needs and administers the Title V Maternal and Child Health Services Block Grant that provides funding for services for children with special health care needs.
National Maternal and Child Health Oral Health Resource Center
The National Maternal and Child Oral Health Resource Center gathers, develops, and shares information and resources to respond to the needs of pregnant women, infants, children, and adolescents, including those with special health care needs.
The National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research seeks to improve oral health through research, training, and the dissemination of information and resources.
Special Care Dentistry Association
The Special Care Dentistry Association is dedicated to promoting good oral health and well-being for people with special health care needs. The association offers yearly national conferences in special care dentistry, publishes the journal Special Care in Dentistry, and offers fellowship credentialing in special care dentistry.
Special Olympics, Healthy Athletes, Special Smiles
Special Olympics, Healthy Athletes, Special Smiles provides oral health screening, education, and referral under the auspices of Special Olympics and strives to increase the number of oral health professionals who serve people with intellectual disabilities.
For Additional AssistanceFor descriptions of more materials and of additional federal and national organizations, see Oral Health Services for Children and Adolescents with Special Health Care Needs: A Resource Guide. The guide provides descriptions of materials on policy, professional education and practice, program development, and public education. Descriptions of and contact information for relevant organizations is also included. (2020)