September is recognized as Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) Awareness month, and September 9th is the internationally recognized day.
What is Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD)?
“It is a lifelong disability that affects the brain and body of people who were exposed to alcohol in the womb. Each person with FASD has both strengths and challenges and will need special support to help them succeed with many different parts of their daily lives.”
Taken from: https://canfasd.ca/what-is-fasd/
Alcohol passes easily from the mother to the developing baby; the harm that the developing baby incurs is dependent on the frequency, duration, health and genetic responses of the mother/child, and quantity of the exposure(s). There has been NO SAFE dose of alcohol determined during pregnancy yet. FASD diagnosis can be missed or delayed, and the effects of the condition are significant from physiological (poor growth to facial dysmorphologies) to neurodevelopmental (behavioral, memory, language, and learning deficits).
There’s way more to it, then what I’ve described, and each person’s case is unique, so I’d strongly advise further reading, but mostly what I’ve included are summaries of the main things to consider.
How does FASD impact dental hygiene care or what do you need to know?
Please inform your dental care provider AHEAD of the appointment and let them know ways that you feel they can create a positive experience. Providing a full/complete history is the best way to ensure success. Bring supplies that would be beneficial for the individual to be comfortable and at ease. Practice dental visits ahead of time at home, read dental-related books, and watch videos to prepare them ahead of time! You can also do drive-by visits or just come in for a meet and greet ahead of time!
There can be other conditions that occur, such as ADHD, diabetes, substance abuse, and seizures that may affect their dental healthcare. Also, it’s possible that there may be a higher incidence of gingivitis and weaker tooth development due to malnutrition, and individuals may develop oral aversion, so oral care may be challenging for at-home dental care. This may lead to an increased risk/prevalence of cavities and gum disease throughout the lifetime. It’s important to review challenges with the Dental Hygienist, so that they can come up with strategies for at-home care.
Furthermore, mouth breathing/thumb sucking is common with FASD and may lead to malocclusion, sleep apnea, and dry mouth, so attending dentist/orthodontic referrals when recommended is critical. Being proactive and building relationships with all the healthcare providers, like dieticians to address malnutrition, is important throughout the lifetime. The main point here is this condition requires healthcare providers to be collaborative and empathetic. We are all working towards the same goal: the overall wellness of the person.
For those that may have been undiagnosed, a dental provider may suspect it as a condition based on some physical facial attributes, such as “Microcephaly, ptosis of the top eyelid (epicanthic folds), a short and upturned nose, thin vermillion of upper lip, and retrognathia”
If you have any more questions/concerns, then please reach out, and we’ll do our best to assist!