Oral Rehabilitation of a Patient with Special Needs

A graduating DDS student approached me at the end of my second year to see if I was willing to take on a case. The patient was described as complex. I asked for the patient’s phone number to schedule an appointment but was told the patient had just checked in. Ten minutes later I would meet one of the most influential patients during my time at Dugoni.

The patient has a hearing disability and is mute. He was accompanied by his elderly mother who would translate for him. When I began asking questions about the patient’s health history, I learned that the mother only spoke Spanish (I do not speak Spanish). Over the next year I would learn how to communicate, educate, and ultimately empower this patient. The case includes diagnostic, perio, direct-restorative, oral surgery, oral pathology, and removable prosthetics.

This patient presented to the Dugoni clinic in 2021 in need of a full mouth rehabilitation. It was discovered that the patient has a significant combined medical and social history that would create challenges in her treatment and management thereafter. In dental management of a patient with special needs, a multidisciplinary approach is recommended to better support the patient throughout their dental journey and establish a dental home for them. With a patient presenting with such complexities, managing and shaping behavior is critical to deliver the quality of care needed to support a lifetime of dental health.

Author: Alex D. Nguyen, DDS ’22
Mentors: Dr. Michael Tiller, Dr. Namrata Nayyar, Dr. Mark Stevenson, Dr. Adham Azim, Dr. Nikhil Malhan, Dr. Bianca Aboubakare, Dr. Bernadette Fa, Dr. Mary Turoff, Carlos Correa, Gigi Maranan, Maria Bran, Stone Mao, DDS 2023

OKU Group Practice Clinical Excellence Award

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