Dentist for Kids With Autism: 4 Things to Consider
For many children, dental offices can be scary. They may not know what to expect or are unsure about the tools being used inside their mouths.
However, for children with autism, a trip to the dentist can sometimes be even more startling. Bright lights, loud noises, unfamiliar processes, and strong smells, tastes, and textures can all feel uncomfortable.
However, it doesn’t have to be an overwhelming experience. With the right dentist and some pre-planning, you may be able to benefit from a successful dental visit. Before you make your next appointment, consider the following information.
Selecting a Dentist
Choosing the right dentist for kids with autism can be crucial when your child is ready for their next check-up or experiencing an oral health issue. Special needs dentists take care of general oral care, cleanings, fillings, tooth extractions, and more, all while prioritizing your child’s comfort and safety.
They will also take the time to make sure your child is comfortable while talking them through what will happen during the appointment. They may discuss sedation options with you to help your child feel as relaxed as possible.
Planning With the Dentist
While special needs dentists work with a wide variety of children to help them feel as calm as possible during their appointment, making a plan with the dentist before their visit may be worthwhile.
You can choose a time of the day you believe will be best for your child and discuss any concerns you have about the appointment or particular dental services. Some dentists have child-friendly reading materials with pictures to review, so you may like to ask if such materials are available for you to look over with your child.
Planning with the dentist may also involve seeing how patients with developmental disabilities like autism are catered to. Dentists may dim lights, turn down loud noises, remove distracting clutter, and turn on instruments for children to see before putting them in their mouths.
Preparing Your Child
Many children with autism benefit from knowing what to expect when they have their dentist appointment. Consider working through each step of a pediatric dentist appointment with visual information to ensure they understand what’s happening.
Some of these visual steps might include lying on a chair, keeping their feet straight and their hands on their stomach, and opening their mouths wide. You might also go into detail with counting teeth, spitting into the sink, and helping them become familiar with dentist tools like dental mirrors and gum massagers.
If x-rays will be taken during your child’s appointment, showing them how the dental bitewings work may mean that having a foreign material in their mouth is not a scary experience. With visual schedules to refer to, children can tick off each task as it’s performed.
Plan Your Day
For many children with autism, visiting a dentist can be exhausting and overwhelming. While some of the best special needs dentists make each visit as stress-free as possible, some children do feel tired once their appointment is over.
Where possible, plan your appointment on a day when they will not need to experience any other new or stressful environments before or after their appointment.
Seeing a dentist doesn’t have to be a daunting experience when your child has autism. Book an appointment with our Tempe, Avondale or Phoenix special needs dentist, who understands the importance of specialized dental care for children with special needs.