Oral health is an important part of healthy daily living. People who live with cognitive and developmental disabilities are often likely to develop dental cavities and gum disease, which can negatively impact their overall health and ability to complete normal daily activities.

The ODA and Canadian Dental Association have developed resources for parents, caregivers and the dental team who care for persons with special health care needs. These materials are aimed at providing basic oral health care for persons with Autism Spectrum Disorder, Alzheimer’s and Dementia and to make their experiences more successful. These resources may also be helpful to individuals who care for persons with other special health care needs.

Tips for Parents and Caregivers

Establishing a dental routine at home and visiting the dentist can be challenging for persons with special health care needs. The following guide has been developed to help parents and caregivers:

  • Begin and maintain a dental care routine at home
  • Make dental care at home as easy as possible
  • Prepare for a visit to the dentist


Your dental office may ask you to complete a pre-visit questionnaire before the appointment to share important details with the dental team, specifically the patient’s:

  • Medical history
  • Dental care routine
  • Diet preferences
  • Communication abilities
  • Sensory sensitivities

This information will help the dental team prepare to make the dental visit as comfortable as possible for your child.

Other Resources

Below are links to resources to help parents and caregivers provide oral health care for persons living with special needs. This information is meant to be general information only. It should not be used to replace the advice of a qualified health professional. Talk with your dentist if you have any questions.