My intense love for candy, cakes, and everything in between started as a child. I simply couldn't go one day without something sweet to eat. But my love for all things sweet took a toll on my teeth. My dentist diagnosed me with seven cavities, each one a different size and depth. After sitting through four long dental appointments, I decided to make a change. I now monitor my diet and only eat things that benefit my oral health. I'm here to help you take better care of your teeth. My blog offers tips on how to improve your diet, maintain good oral hygiene, and many other topics. Hopefully, you can learn to overcome your bad habits just as I did. Good luck with your future dental health.
As the parent of a child on the Autism spectrum, you understand that sensory sensitivities can make seemingly everyday tasks a challenge. Visiting the pediatric dentist is no exception to this. In fact, dentist visits can be traumatic for kids on the spectrum without the proper preparations. These visits are often a sensory overload experience, from the tools to the sounds and the tastes. While trips to the dentist may never be something your child looks forward to, there are some steps you can take to help make the process easier.
Talk to the Staff in Advance
When you book your child's first dental appointment, take time to speak to the office staff in advance about any special needs that he or she may have. As a child on the spectrum, routine and sensory control can be important. If this is the case for your child, the office staff should be aware.
If your child is prone to meltdowns with specific triggers, pass that information along to the staff at the dentist's office ahead of time. This is especially important if you suspect that they may trigger a meltdown unintentionally. The more that your child's dentist knows in advance, the better the office can prepare for your child's appointment.
Create Social Stories
Just as social stories can be beneficial for teaching conversational skills and other social norms, you can also use them to prepare your child for the dentist's office. Create a picture book that will clearly explain what your child can expect of the visit to the dentist, including the cleaning process, x-rays, fluoride treatments and any other care that you anticipate.
Focus on the sensory inputs when you address these social stories. Explain the sounds that the tools make, the taste of the cleaning products and the smells that your child is likely to encounter. When presented as a social story, all of these things will ease the uncertainty.
Introduce the Equipment
If possible, buy or rent some of the basic dental instruments that your child is likely to see. The hand-held instruments are typically easy to acquire, and they can allow your child some time to develop a hands-on familiarity with them before the appointment. This can take some of the anxiety out of the process on the day of the appointment.
Ease Sensory Issues
If your child has serious sensory issues with certain flavors, textures or sounds, take that into consideration as you prepare for the appointment. You may need to request that any products used be strawberry flavored, for example.
Additionally, if your child has sound sensitivities, consider investing in some ear plugs that will help to block out the noise of the dental instruments. For kids with sensitivity to light, sunglasses can make a great tool for eye protection in the examination room.
Offer Moral Support
Talk to the dentist and hygienist in advance about the possibilities of being in the room with your child during the treatment. Some kids on the spectrum will do much better about relaxing and following instructions if Mom is in view. If this is the case for your child, the dentist may prefer that you be present during the appointment.
Bring Comfort Tools
Most kids on the spectrum have specific items that will help them to calm down and stay focused. If your child is suffering from significant anxiety over the appointment, consider bringing a weighted blanket to lay over him or her in the chair, or possibly a favorite toy. A simple thing like this can bring significant stress relief, making your child feel more comfortable and possibly more cooperative.
Although dentist appointments can be full of uncertainty and an overload of sensory data, you can help your child process all of that input more easily and effectively by catering to his or her specific situation. The tips presented here will help you to ensure success for that very first venture into a dentist's office, which will set the stage for all future dental appointments as well.Share