Oh the dreaded dentist trip. The sound of screaming children… and grown men… can be heard just thinking about it. If you have a child with autism dentist trips can be even more stressful. Fortunately, there are steps you can take to both prepare your child as well as give their dentist the tools they need to put your child at ease during any dental procedure. This is important, as a trip to the dentist is a vital part of good oral health for children with autism as much as it is for those without.
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Here are 5 tips for going to the dentist with autism.
1. Good Routine at Home
The first step is to create a good oral hygiene routine at home. If you have a child with autism dentist trips are much quicker if a good oral hygiene routine at home is established. This not only makes trips to the dentist quicker and easier, but also gets your child in the proper mindset about clean teeth. Both of these ultimately make the trip less scary and easier for your child.
First, it makes the visits to the dentists quicker and easier. A clean mouth doesn’t require as much work from the dentist. It also prevents some of the nastier procedures like fillings that are more likely to set off your child.
It also gets your child in the proper mindset about clean teeth. While the dentist might seem scary, a routine cleaning visit is just a super-powered brushing and flossing. Understanding this can help your child going into the appointment as they are already used to many of the things about to happen and is a simple way to frame it to make it seem less imposing.
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2. Preparation Is Key
When you’re headed to the autism dentist, remember that preparation is critical. Break it down for your kiddo, explain what’s on the horizon, and why it’s necessary. Prepare them for the dental process before the appointment. It could be through a simple dental check-up video, or you could even play the patient and let them witness your appointment.
By doing so, you’re taking the element of surprise out of the equation, giving your child a sense of control over the situation. This could be particularly useful if it’s their first visit, as the fear of the unknown could be the biggest worry. So, making it all transparent is a great way to ease their anxiety. This approach will make your trip to the autism dentist a bit easier for you and your child. Use these tips to make your next dental visit less about the unknown and more about comfort and understanding.
3. Involve the Dentist
Another great step is to inform your dentist in advance about your child’s special needs. Every child on the spectrum is different and gets anxious due to different factors. By talking to your dentist beforehand, you can ease your worries and let them know what your child doesn’t like. This will assist them in avoiding any circumstances that could distress your child during the visit.
4. Have a Plan
Facing unexpected challenges at the dentist? That’s perfectly okay. Let’s keep a few backup plans handy. For example, if your little one isn’t too fond of loud noises, a good pair of headphones can do wonders. And remember, the more your dentist knows about your child’s specific triggers, the better they can adapt their approach. This joint effort can minimize hiccups along the way. Because let’s face it, every child is one of a kind, and so are their triggers. Chatting with your dentist before the appointment about your child’s unique needs can help create a smoother and more comfortable dental visit. Just a few modifications can make a world of difference.
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5. Positive Reinforcement
Lastly, it’s important to set a clear reward and follow up with it. The promise of reward heavily influences many children on the spectrum, even those who are not. Thus, they are much more likely to behave when given an incentive. Have a clear reward for a successful dentist visit, and then follow up along with praise. Many dentists can also help you out with this by having a small toy prize for children after their visit.
Communication is the all-important factor here. It is vital to a good dentist trip that both your child and dentist are as well informed as possible.
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- Improved Communication. Goally helps children learn to effectively communicate wants and needs, and allows children to participate in the world around them.
- Bonus: Goally’s Core Word Lessons teaches kids their first 50 words through video modeling and interactive practice.
Dentist for Kids With Autism
If you have a child with autism dentist visits on a regular basis are important. Good oral hygiene is essential to a healthy lifestyle because you don’t want tooth decay and pain to hold them back. Many parents ask why they should take their child to a pediatric dentist over a regular dentist, and there are several benefits:
- Pediatric dentists receive two to three additional years of training after dental school. This additional training helps them understand the unique needs and best methods to treat young children, including children with autism.
- The dental room is designed to be kid friendly, and they typically use smaller and “less scary” dental tools to help children feel more comfortable.
- They typically decorate their offices brightly and stock them with the best toys and games, giving children something to look forward to.
- They communicate throughout the appointment to keep children informed and engaged.
FAQs About Autism Dentist
What can I do to prepare my child for a visit to the autism dentist? Start by explaining the process to your child and perhaps show them a video of a dental check-up to help ease their concerns.
How can I make the dental visit less overwhelming for my child? If your child is sensitive to loud noises, packing headphones can make a difference. Discussing your child's unique triggers with the dentist can also be beneficial.
What should I inform the autism dentist about before the visit? It's crucial to share your child's triggers and sensitivities with the dentist, as this allows them to adjust their approach for a more comfortable visit.
How can I reduce my child's fear of the unknown at the dentist? Allowing your child to observe a dental procedure, either through a video or in person, can help remove the element of surprise.
What can I do if the visit to the autism dentist doesn't go as planned? Having a contingency plan is essential. This could involve comfort items like headphones or strategies discussed with your dentist tailored to your child's specific needs.
This post was originally published on 06/24/2021. It was updated on 09/20/2023.