Answered Questions for December 2021: Dental and Oral Health for People with Disabilities

Answered Questions is a monthly resource for the Spanish language Disability Community that fills an information need. This month’s question is: My son has a disability, and it can be a challenge to help him maintain his dental/oral health. Where can I find resources, information, and research to help him with his dental/oral health? This edition of Answered Questions includes items that discuss the development of a multifunctional robotic assistive arm for activities of daily living (ADLs) assistance; barriers and facilitators of oral health among people with mental illness; oral health management; promotion of oral health among children with disabilities; and more. More about Answered Questions.

NIDILRR-Funded Projects:

The project, Multifunctional Robotic Assistive Arm (mR2A) for Activities of Daily Living Assistance (in English), assists older adults and/or people with dysfunction in their extremities to live independently and safely at home and provide activities of daily living (ADL) and mobility assistance. The project’s goals are to develop a prototype of a multifunctional robotic assistance arm that can be mounted on any mobile base, such as on a wheelchair, or any fixed base with a set of grippers to provide ADL assistance, such as picking up a toothbrush, feeding, or opening a door. This innovative robotic arm will improve the quality of life of users by providing independence, will reduce dependence on caregivers, and will improve the physical and mental status of its users and their family caregivers.

From the NARIC Collection:

The article, Barriers to and facilitators of oral health among persons living with mental illness: A qualitative study (in English), discusses a study that explored the barriers and facilitators that affect the oral health care of people with mental illness from the perspectives of patients, psychiatrists, and dentists. Participants in the study reported barriers to oral health care that included access to dental care, lack of oral health screening by psychiatrists, fear of dental care, and a lack of communication. Researchers found that facilitators of oral health care were linked to several factors, including training and education, financial support, community support, and a dentist’s chairside manner. The findings of this study highlight the gaps in the healthcare system between oral health and mental health. The authors suggest that interventions should include interdisciplinary education and training, improved communication, and strategies to reduce financial barriers and anxiety in dental practice.

Research In Focus:

The article, Adults with Disabilities Get More Preventive Care, but Less Dental Care, Than Adults without Disabilities, discusses a study from the NIDILRR-funded Collaborative on Health Reform and Independent Living (CHRIL) (in English) that looked at whether adults with disabilities were more or less likely to get blood pressure checks, flu shots, or annual dental checkups and what factors were associated with getting these services. The findings from this study seem to indicate that working-age adults with disabilities receive more of some preventive services than working-age adults without disabilities, except for dental care. Although most people with disabilities in the US have some type of health insurance, less than half of them have dental insurance. This article is also available in English.

From Other Collections:


Research has shown that people with disabilities have a higher risk to suffer oral pathologies due to poor dental services related to a reluctance by dentists to care for people with disabilities. This may be due to a lack of training programs for dentists on communication strategies, care protocols, and ways to support people with a wide range of disabilities. The article, Oral health management in people with disabilities from CES Odontología, reviews some types of disabilities, their most common oral issues, dental management, and appropriate alternative communication strategies that dentists and oral hygienists may use to provide good dental care services to people with disabilities.

Oral Health in Children with Disabilities:

Research shows that children with disabilities are at a higher risk for tooth decay and other oral health problems than children without disabilities. The factsheet, Promotion of oral health in children with disabilities from Head Start at the US Department of Health and Human Services, discusses the oral health challenges faced by children with disabilities. The factsheet also provides strategies for families, service providers, and Head Start staff to help improve the oral health of children with disabilities.


  • The article, Oral Health for Children with Disabilities and Special Needs from the California Childcare Health Program, discusses why children with disabilities are at a higher risk of developing dental or other oral health problems, common oral health problems, and tips for parents and other adults in helping children maintain their dental and oral health.
  • The National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research (NIDCR) at the National Institutes of Health published a webpage on developmental disabilities and oral health. The webpage provides an overview of developmental disabilities and provides general information on the health challenges that people with developmental disabilities may face that may impact their oral health and their interactions with dental care providers, along with helpful tips for caregivers and dental professionals. Includes a video on making dental visits more comfortable (in English, closed captioning in Spanish is available) for children with autism spectrum disorders.

Further Research:




About Answered Questions

Each month, we look through the searches on our blog and through the information requests made by our patrons who speak Spanish and pick a topic that fills the largest need. Each resource mentioned above is associated with this month’s information need. We search the various Spanish language news sources and feeds throughout the month to bring you these articles. With the exception of the NIDILRR Projects, From the NARIC Collection, and Further Investigation, all the linked articles and resources are in Spanish – any that are in English will be clearly marked.

About mpgarcia

I'm the Bilingual Information/Media Specialist at NARIC.
This entry was posted in Answer Queue, Publications, Respuestas a las Preguntas, Spanish and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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