One of the struggles with having a special needs child is trying to figure out when something is wrong with them. This is especially true when it comes to their oral health, which could involve internal pain that you cannot simply see yourself. That's why it helps to know some of the warning signs that your special needs child has an oral health problem that should be treated by a dentist.
Pain When Eating
The first problem you may notice is that your child experiences pain when they are eating food. Keep in mind that this doesn't necessarily need to be pain that is caused when chewing on something with their teeth. They could have increased sensitivity when eating foods that are particularly hot or cold, or have sensitivity from eating sweet foods. If you are noticing a pattern with pain when eating, this could be a sign that your child has a dental problem that they have not communicated to you yet.
Eating Less Than Normal
If your child is experiencing pain when eating, the only thing they may know to do about it is to avoid the activity that is causing them pain. This can cause your child to eat less at meal time because they no longer enjoy eating food. If every time they eat it causes them to experience pain, they are going to associate that activity with it being unenjoyable and avoid doing it when possible.
Losing Weight Unexpectedly
Have you noticed that your child is losing weight, but you know that they have not increased their physical activity that would lead to weight loss? This could be a combination of the previous two problems, where it is painful to eat and they are eating less food than normal. That's why it's a good idea to start paying attention to the other two issues as well if there is a sudden weight loss that cannot be explained.
Pain can also be an issue that is keeping your child up at night. If you notice that they are waking up more during the middle of the night, it could be due to dental pain that is waking them up. Consider taking your child to a pediatric dentist to figure out if their oral health is what is causing the problem, since your dentist can get to the bottom of it by taking x-rays and performing an exam.