Southwest Dental Group makes dentist visits easier for those with disabilities

ORLAND PARK, Ill. (WLS) -- A regular trip to the dentist's office us something most of us take for granted, but it's not that easy for people with special needs.

But dentists and staff at Southwest Dental Group in Orland Park are trying to change that.

A visit to the dentist has not always gone this smoothly for 21-year-old Allyson Cain.

"Up until five years ago, literally, Allyson had never had a decent cleaning," said Kelly Cain, Allyson's mother.

Allyson is living with cerebral palsy, making a routine dental appointment anything but easy.

"She has a lot of drooling and so forth, swallowing issues. So she isn't able to sit still like we are and keep our mouth open for an extended length of time that she needs to in order for a good cleaning, and possibly a filling and so forth," Kelly Cain said.

Kelly and Allyson found just what they needed at Southwest Dental Group.

Dr. Robert Tentler and his staff have become specialists in helping people with special needs.

"Anyone from my special needs kids who have downs syndrome, cerebral palsy, variations in autistic spectrum, varying levels of their disability and communication," Tentler said. "We really have to take our time and get to know the patients and have them feel comfortable."

That's precisely why Allyson is here; safety and comfort.

"They know her. They know the mechanics of her body and what her needs are physically as well has emotional," Kelly Cain. "They know what she likes. They talk about her favorite music she's listening to, things she's done in school and so forth to comfort her."

This kind of practice takes not only compassion, but also specialized medical knowledge. Because of the patients' special needs, the staff treats more than just their teeth.

"You're dealing with a lot of issues. I like the challenge, the reward to see a patient taken care of well. To actually have parents who are very much involved and are their children's advocate," Tentler said.

Tom Ryan has been bringing his son Kevin here for about 10 years now.

"He had some major dental work so the doctor was able to, he did it in a way that he was asleep and was able to accomplish a lot in a short period of time," said Tom Ryan, a parent.

Tentler says it is a rewarding practice.

"It provides a bit of a challenge certainly, but if you take the time and you have the patience, it's really not that hard," he said.

Tentler says about 10-15 percent of his patients are people with special needs. A majority of them are referrals from other doctors who know about the services that they provide. He's hoping soon there will be even more specialists doing what they do.

For more information, visit Southwest Dental Group's website.
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