Dental Health Topics

Helping Your Child with Special Needs Visit the Dentist

If you’re the parent of a child with special needs, you know some things like a dental visit can be challenging. Depending on your child’s needs, there are a few things you can do to make their visit go more smoothly.

Prepare Your Child for Their Visit

There are lots of things that you can do to help your child know what to expect during their visit.

You can look at the dentist’s website together and look at staff pictures to familiarize your child with who they will meet. You can watch videos of a dental office visit. You can drive by the dental office to show your child where they will be going. You can even play with dental toys at home to help your child get comfortable with what happens at the dentist.

Most importantly, speak positively about dental visits to reduce fear and anxiety.

Communicate with Your Dental Team

You know your child better than anyone, so the best thing you can do is communicate with your dental team about any accommodations that will help during the visit.

For instance, you can ask for dimmed lights, a longer appointment time, for staff to speak in hushed tones, sedation options, and so on.

If applicable, ask about wheelchair access in the parking lot and office prior to your appointment.

Also, it may be helpful for your child to see the same hygienist and dentist each time to reduce anxiety about meeting new people. This is especially helpful for children on the autism spectrum.

Maintain Good Oral Hygiene at Home

We know this is easier said than done for everyone. The sooner you start, however, the better.

Try to make the process of flossing and brushing as fun and low-pressure as possible. If your child has reached their limits, feel free to stop and pick up again later.

A great idea for brushing is to introduce your child to an electric toothbrush. This way, they get used to all the sensory input involved (sound of equipment, feel of vibration, taste of toothpaste).

Your dental team is there to make sure your dental visit goes smoothly. Don’t be bashful about communicating your needs!