Children with autism spectrum disorder can have special needs that make regular tasks a little more challenging. If your child has autism, you may find that a trip to the dentist can be very difficult. Use the following tips to help your autistic child feel more comfortable visiting the dentist and having a dental exam:
Choose the Right Dentist
If your child is autistic, it is a good idea to go to a children's dental care specialist—ideally one who has advanced training in treated children with autism spectrum disorder. Children's dental care specialists tend to be very skilled in making children feel comfortable during their dental exams, and their offices are usually designed to appeal to children.
Make a Visual Schedule
Many children with autism feel more comfortable when they know what to expect. A visual schedule, using photos from a typical pediatric dental exam, can help prepare your child for their appointment and let them know what happens during a visit to the dentist. You may want to begin reviewing the visual schedule several days in advance so your child can understand what to expect.
Practice Before the Appointment
While some autistic children respond well to visual cues, others may do better with a more hands on approach. Take the time to practice what needs to be done during a dental appointment so your child is prepared. You can do this by having your child sit in a reclining chair and then practice sitting still, opening his or her mouth wide and keeping it open, having their teeth brushed with a powered toothpaste, and then getting up to spit in the sink. Several rounds of practice may help your autistic child tolerate his or her dental exam.
Use Positive Reinforcement
Going to the dentist can be very stressful for an autistic child—the noise, smells, and having things in their mouth can really bother children on the spectrum. You may want to consider using positive reinforcement while your child is practicing for the appointment and after the appointment itself. Make sure you praise your child when he or she does well; you may even want to offer a small reward, such as a treat or doing a fun activity. This can help your child associate a dental exam with positive things.
Speak with the Dentist
When you make your child's dental appointment at a clinic like Dentistry For Children & Adolescents, make sure you let the office know that he or she is autistic. This will allow the pediatric dental care specialist to prepare in advance for the appointment so he or she can make your child feel comfortable.Share
28 November 2016
Toddlers should see a dentist for the first time by the age of twelve months or by the time their first tooth comes in. But if you are a parent with toddlers anything like mine, the prospect of going to the dentist (let alone anywhere!) can be pretty intimidating. My kids were a handful growing up. They had tantrums any time we would have to sit in a waiting room, and they refused to get in the dentist's chair during their first few visits. So, I had to employ a professional to help me make the transition to finally getting them in that dental chair without all the screaming and crying. I know I'm not the only parent in this situation, so I decided to share the information I've learned with others who can use a little help. You can find all my advice right here on these pages!