Visiting the dentist with an autistic child can be a stressful ordeal for both the parent and child. To help ease your stress here are some tips from our children's dentists on how to help create a positive dental experience for everyone.
Dental appointments with an autistic child can be difficult. Not only are there the usual fears associated with strangers who put their hands in your mouth, there are also strange sounds, tastes, sensations, bright lights, and sometimes pain. Nonetheless there are some things you can do, starting with finding the right dentist who can help prepare you and your child for a dental appointment.
Finding The Right Dentist
Dentists are not all comfortable working with children on the autism spectrum, so finding the right dentist is crucial. Look for a dentist who has experience with special needs children, then ask questions and gather as much information as you need to feel comfortable.
Once you find a dental practice that seems like a good fit, take the time to speak with the dentist in advance of the appointment. This will give you the opportunity to find out exactly what to expect during your child's appointment, as well as a chance to let the dentist know a little about your child.
Here are a few steps you can take to prepare your child for their dental visit:
- Take your child to visit the dental practice in advance of the appointment to get them familiar with the new setting and faces.
- Bring some of your child's favourite toys, foods, videos or other comfort objects that will help put your child at ease.
- Consider borrowing some basic dental instruments so that your child can see, touch and interact with them before going to the dentist.
- Find a book or video to show and tell your child what will happen at the dentist's office. Look at it often before you go to the dentist, and even bring it along on appointment day.
- Bring along sunglasses and earplugs if your child has a problem with bright lights or loud noise.
Being with your child during the dental appointment is key. You will be the most familiar face in the room, so you can help keep your child calm and distracted during the visit. Admittedly it can be difficult to stay calm while your child is having a difficult time but just being there to support them will make your child feel safer and more at ease.