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Non verbal special needs daughter needs help



Junior member
Mar 27, 2021
My little girl is disabled, 13 years old, and I have recently noticed a dark area on her bottom right tooth ( molar? ) near the back whilst brushing her teeth. Am slightly alarmed now because she has only ever let the dentist have the briefest look at her teeth in the chair, she is profoundly disabled and she won’t really know what’s going on. I’ve tried social stories but she isn’t quite there with those yet, and there’s no way on this earth she would tolerate treatment. So, what do I do? It’s not causing her pain right now, but clearly it’s going to. We are in Scotland, Aberdeen way. Oh and to mention, she isn’t vaccinated against covid as she has an allergy that puts her in a high risk group.
Take her to the dentist again. If they can't get a look then she needs referred to Special Care (I assume you've been taking her to your own dentist?).
Thanks for the reply Gordon, Yes, that's right the same dentist I see who is great, so no reflection on him whatsoever, it's just her ability to understand/tolerate it. We are both seeing him tomorrow.

I feel like the world's worst mum, her diet is so limited that I have allowed her to eat far more sugar to compensate for the lack of calories than she should have, I have reeled that in now of course, but clearly too late.

I hope the dark area I can see is the only one, the rest ( to me ) look fine, with no discoloration, etc. When her baby teeth came out and her new ones came through she actually started trying to pull them out, that was petrifying, but not unheard of I am told, fortunately, she stopped that by herself, what a strange thing. So if they do a filling for her, I am hoping they can make it as smooth as possible in order for her not to be attracted to it as something 'new' in her mouth.

She swallowed a whole bunch of her baby teeth before we even discovered she had lost them so don't even know if that one is one of them, but figure they would have all gone by 13yo? Jeeze the worries!
Yes, there are some patients that are just outside of the normal bread and butter stuff for general practice, it sounds like your daughter is one of them. I spent 30 years doing exclusively special care dentistry and I still don't think I was any sort of an expert.

Please, please please, do NOT feel bad about this at all.

First off, you don't know for sure if this is actually a cavity, even if it is, patients with profound learning disabilities can have developmental abnormalities affecting the teeth so they can be more prone to cavities anyway.

Secondly, it's also extremely difficult to brush another adult's teeth for them effectively.

Thirdly, you needed to get calories into her, when I worked with patients who were on chemo, it was important to realise that getting the calories in was way more important than the odd cavity :)

The chances are if she needs a filling she's likely to need a general anaesthetic, so prepare yourself for this. Again, you're not a bad parent or any kind of a failure, it's just one of those things that needs to be done.

It can be a bit of a balancing act sometimes with special care patients, between jumping in to do treatment and adopting a wait and see approach, so don't be upset again if the dentist decides to leave it for a wee bit to see if it progresses or if it needs doing.

It could still be a baby tooth, again development can be a bit unusual with special care patients.
I am no dentist or specialist of any kind. However, I am a mum of a little boy with autism and just wanted to reassure you that you're not alone with this, I hear you completely!

As Gordon has already said, do not blame yourself. This isn't your fault.

My son barely eats a thing, he's under weight and although I try to limit his sugar intake, it's hard because we need them to eat something and as you say they need the calories. We've got to pick our battles carefully sometimes. My sons diet is very limited - mostly it's potatoes, beans, pasta, sausages and apples. Even his pudding type snacks and foods are very limited so some days I'm just grateful he eats something.

I hope you got on OK at the dentist with your daughter, I hope they could reassure you. Often things are not as bad as we think they are.

My reply is a bit pointless but basically wanted to say you're not alone.