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What Is Special Needs Dentistry?

What Is Special Needs Dentistry (SND)?

Special Needs Dentistry is a relatively new service in Malaysia. It was first introduced and made available to the public by Ministry of Health in 2011. SND service involves in delivering oral health management and care for people with moderate to severe disabilities. It has been reported worldwide that oral hygiene or dental conditions of people with disabilities are often poor and neglected. Their oral hygiene is potentially influenced by several factors which can be a single factor or in combination. A few of the factors are for example, the ability to perform oral hygiene tasks, direct or indirect      side-effects (to the oral conditions) of the chronic diseases and the medications they are taking. Looking after people with disabilities is a challenge for the carer and the attending dentist. Therefore, this group of vulnerable people in the population requires special oral health care regimen both at home and at the professional level.

Although dental care for people with disabilities can be provided by the general dentists, some may benefit more by attending specialist dental facility. SND service is provided by specialist who has been well-trained in managing behavioural challenges, patients with complex medical problems and in patients with cognitive impairment. Tender, loving and care are the key elements in SND practice in order for the patients to be more comfortable and less frighten during dental visits.

Who can seek treatment in Special Needs Dentistry Unit?

Adults aged 16 years old and above with:

Services provided in SND unit.

Comprehensive dental treatment services including;

1. Consultation, dental examination and dental radiography
2. Scaling/ cleaning and hygiene services
3. Restorative treatment (filling, simple crown)
4. Root canal treatment
5. Tooth extractions
6. Dentures
7. Preventive therapy and advice

Sedation and General Anaesthesia in SND

These techniques below will help patients to reduce their dental anxiety and make them feel more comfortable on the dental chair:

  1. Nitrous oxide sedation (Laughing gas)

    Nitrous oxide is a gas used for patients to breath, which takes away anxiety while not affecting consciousness during the dental procedures.

  2. Oral sedation

    Anti-anxiety medication is given to patients and this will provide relaxation and peacefulness.

  3. General Anaesthesia

    This has to be done in the operating room whereby patients will be anaesthetized by the anesthetist, rendering them unconscious.

How to access SND services?

  1. Get a referral letter from a doctor, dentist or any healthcare professionals at your locality.*
  2. Get an initial appointment by contacting the staff at an SND unit. This is usually arranged by the referring health professionals. Otherwise, contact the centers listed at the at the end of the article.
  3. A photocopy of PWD (OKU) card must be presented on the first visit to get specialist fee exemptions.
  4. At the first visit, it is advisable to come with an accompanying person who is familiar with the patient’s medical history and medications.
  5. During the first appointment, a consultation followed by the necessary diagnostic investigations shall be performed. Therefore, please take note that there may not be any treatment provided during this visit.

* Full fee will be charged for referral which is obtained from a private doctor or dentist.

SND Service Is Available At The Centres Listed Below:

  1. Special Needs Dentistry Unit, Specialist Dental Clinic, Hospital  Kajang, Jalan Semenyih 43000 Kajang, Selangor.
    Phone no.: 03 8913 3333
  2. Special Needs Dentistry Unit, Oral Surgery Department, Hospital Kuala Lumpur, Jalan Pahang, 50586 Kuala Lumpur.
    Phone no.:  03 2615 5723
  3. Special Needs Dentistry Unit, Oral Surgery Department, Hospital Seberang Jaya, Jalan Tun Hussein Onn, 13700 Seberang Jaya, Pulau Pinang.
    Phone no.: 04 3827 333


Last Reviewed : 17 March 2014
Writer : Dr. Siti Zaleha bt. Hamzah
Accreditor : Dr. Norjehan bt. Yahaya