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Dentistry for children and young people with learning disabilities and challenging behaviour

Published September 2013

Download the full evidence summary PDF: WTE Dentistry for LD and challenging behaviour

PLEASE NOTE: This summary was produced more than 4 years ago. Information provided may be out of date. If you think it would be helpful to update this summary please contact us at

What were we asked?

A parent asked us about dental imaging techniques for children and young people with learning disabilities and challenging behaviour. They had experienced difficulties with their own child attending the dentist, and wanted to know whether there were any special techniques that could be used when children could not sit still or found it difficult to cooperate.

Key findings

  • Some children and young people can find it difficult to collaborate during dental assessments and x-rays.
  • Current guidance recommends the use of conscious sedation or in some cases, general anaesthetic, for routine dental care for children and young people who find it difficult to cooperate during dental care.
  • Special care dentistry is available for people who have additional needs. We have provided links to advice about dental care and preparing for visiting the dentist.

Note: This information is produced by PenCRU researchers and reviewed by external experts. The views expressed are those of PenCRU at the University of Exeter Medical School and do not represent the views of the Cerebra charity, or any other parties mentioned. We strongly recommend seeking medical advice before undertaking any treatments/therapies.