Oral health status of individuals with cerebral palsy at a nationally recognized rehabilitation center

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Cerebral palsy (CP) is a set of nonprogressive neuromuscular disorders caused by defects in the developing fetal brain. The aim of this study is to investigate the prevalence and distribution of various dental conditions including dental caries and periodontitis among individuals with CP who receive care at the Rancho Los Amigos National Rehabilitation Center dental clinic.

Medical records of 478 patients between the ages of 3 and 78 years were reviewed. Patients were divided into four age groups: 3–20, 21–35, 36–55, and 56 and above year old. Data related to their dental conditions including caries, periodontitis, and other oral diseases were assessed. Statistical analyses were conducted to evaluate the correlations between these oral diseases and age, gender, ethnicity as well as their living conditions (home or group home).

The 36–55-year-old age group displayed significantly more caries and periodontitis than any other age groups. Individuals aged 3–20 years showed a significantly lower rate of periodontitis and caries. There was no significant association between gender and race with these outcome variables but there was a correlation between these variables and living conditions.

Differences in oral health exist among people with CP from different age groups and living conditions. These findings suggest that there is a dire need for more oral hygiene training and education for the care givers. Dental schools should better prepare their graduates to meet the treatment demands of individuals with special healthcare needs.

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