Dental Care for Special Needs Patients

Course #51912 -


The ability to maintain optimal oral health requires daily attention to oral hygiene and regular dental evaluations. The oral environment has a complex composition of microbial organisms and any alteration in this environment, from systemic illness, treatments, or poor oral hygiene, can result in short- and long-term oral effects. Even patients with ideal physical and mental health can be challenged in their pursuit of optimal oral health. Patients with complicated medical and/or mental health problems have a greater incidence of acute and chronic oral health problems because many are unable to perform the basic tasks necessary for fundamental oral hygiene. This is compounded by the fact that some systemic diseases and medications used in their treatment have a higher predilection for adverse oral effects. Immunosuppression, whether the result of diseases such as human immunodeficiency virus/acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (HIV/AIDS) or pharmacologic induction via chemotherapy or immunosuppressive therapy, can allow resident oral microflora to achieve pathogenic status. This course will highlight the systemic diseases and mental health issues with direct and/or indirect influence on the oral and maxillofacial complex. Suggestions to improve oral hygiene and to facilitate dental appointments will also be included.

Education Category: Community Health
Release Date: 05/01/2019
Expiration Date: 04/30/2022

Table of Contents


This course is designed for dental professionals involved in assessing and promoting optimum oral care for special needs patients.

Accreditations & Approvals

NetCE Nationally Approved PACE Program Provider for FAGD/MAGD credit. Approval does not imply acceptance by any regulatory authority or AGD endorsement. 10/1/2015 to 9/30/2021 Provider ID #217994. NetCE is an ADA CERP Recognized Provider. ADA CERP is a service of the American Dental Association to assist dental professionals in identifying quality providers of continuing dental education. ADA CERP does not approve or endorse individual courses or instructors, nor does it imply acceptance of credit hours by boards of dentistry. Concerns or complaints about a CE provider may be directed to the provider or to ADA CERP at NetCE is approved as a provider of continuing education by the Florida Board of Dentistry, Provider #50-2405. NetCE is a Registered Provider with the Dental Board of California. Provider Number RP3841. Completion of this course does not constitute authorization for the attendee to perform any services that he or she is not legally authorized to perform based on his or her license or permit type.

Designations of Credit

NetCE designates this activity for 5 continuing education credits. AGD Subject Code 750. This course meets the Dental Board of California's requirements for 5 unit(s) of continuing education. Dental Board of California course #05-3841-21265.

Course Objective

The purpose of this course is to focus awareness upon the difficult oral health issues that special needs patients face on a daily basis and to provide dental professionals with the necessary information to improve patients' oral and systemic health.

Learning Objectives

Upon completion of this course, you should be able to:

  1. Outline the chronic oral health issues caused by Sjögren syndrome.
  2. Describe the oral health issues associated with the systemic and discoid forms of lupus erythematosus.
  3. Discuss the diverse variety of opportunistic oral infections that occur in patients with
  4. Outline how immunosuppression for patients with organ and bone marrow transplants and from chemotherapy affects short-term and long-term oral health care.
  5. Review oral health considerations for patients with Parkinson disease, cerebral palsy, and spinal cord injuries, and describe treatment modifications for home care and in-office dental care.
  6. Identify the varying degrees of physical impairment experienced by stroke victims and techniques that allow them to maintain oral hygiene.
  7. Describe the special oral health issues encountered by cognitively impaired patients, particularly those with Down syndrome or Alzheimer disease.


Mark J. Szarejko, DDS, FAGD, received his dental degree from the State University of New York at Buffalo in 1985. He received fellowship from the Academy of General Dentistry in 1994.

Faculty Disclosure

Contributing faculty, Mark J. Szarejko, DDS, FAGD, has disclosed no relevant financial relationship with any product manufacturer or service provider mentioned.

Division Planner

William E. Frey, DDS, MS, FICD

Division Planner Disclosure

The division planner has disclosed no relevant financial relationship with any product manufacturer or service provider mentioned.

About the Sponsor

The purpose of NetCE is to provide challenging curricula to assist healthcare professionals to raise their levels of expertise while fulfilling their continuing education requirements, thereby improving the quality of healthcare.

Our contributing faculty members have taken care to ensure that the information and recommendations are accurate and compatible with the standards generally accepted at the time of publication. The publisher disclaims any liability, loss or damage incurred as a consequence, directly or indirectly, of the use and application of any of the contents. Participants are cautioned about the potential risk of using limited knowledge when integrating new techniques into practice.

Disclosure Statement

It is the policy of NetCE not to accept commercial support. Furthermore, commercial interests are prohibited from distributing or providing access to this activity to learners.

Technical Requirements

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