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3 Ways to Make Dental Visits More Enjoyable for Children with Autism

April 24, 2021

Are you worried that your child might have a difficult and unpleasant experience when visiting the dentist? While this concern is valid for all parents, this is especially true if you have a little one with Autism. Finding a practice that offers special needs dentistry can be a life-changing experience for both you and your child. Whether it is severe dental anxiety or sensory issues that keep them from receiving the oral healthcare they need and deserve, a dentist who is trained and equipped to provide the treatment they need can make all the difference in the world. If you are preparing to bring your child in for an upcoming visit, there are things you can do to make sure their experience is nothing but the best. Read on to discover three helpful tips that will keep your little one happy, healthy, and on track to a better smile.

Consult with the Dentist Ahead of Time

One of the most pivotal things you can do as a parent with a child who has Autism is to get in touch with their dentist ahead of time. Your willingness to be proactive and discuss the challenges and potential concerns that can arise during a normal appointment can help a professional better prepare for your child’s upcoming visit. With team members who are equipped to treat young patients with special needs, they can make sure to create an environment that is safe, welcoming, and comfortable for your little one as well as take the necessary time to ensure their needs are met no matter the potential challenges.

Allow Your Child to Role Play at Home

In the days and weeks leading up to your child’s dental appointment, let your child role-play at home what a normal dental checkup and cleaning might look like. You can ask their pediatric dentist for tips and techniques that might be beneficial, but consider trying the following steps to help them better prepare:

  • Have your child lay back in a chair and keep their hands on their stomach
  • Explain the meaning of “open wide” and instruct them to hold their mouth open
  • Have them practice spitting into a sink

By practicing these tasks at home, your child will become more confident in their abilities and less worried about what they can expect at their next visit. If necessary, you might also pull up the dentist’s website and let your child look through the various photos to see what kind of environment they will be walking into on the day of their appointment.

Bring Items to Help Distract

When talking to the dentist ahead of time, ask about the amenities that are available to young patients. Not all dental offices have the conveniences your child might need to avoid a sensory meltdown. If there is a particular toy, video, or game they enjoy, make sure to bring it with you to their appointment. This will help to keep their focus elsewhere while the dentist completes their work.

By adopting these three steps and finding a practice that offers special needs dentistry, you can minimize the potential for challenging dental appointments and put them on a path to better oral health.

About the Author
Dr. Tera Pollock attended the University of Arkansas before earning her Doctor of Dental Surgery from Baylor College of Dentistry in 1993. Completing a post-doctoral General Practice Residency at Detroit Receiving Hospital/the University of Detroit Mercy, she is passionate about providing dental care to children. With more than 20 years of experience, she is pleased to provide special needs dentistry for children who need additional care and attention. If you have a child with Autism and need help to make their upcoming appointment more enjoyable, visit our website or call (469) 284-8895.

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