As a parent with an autistic child, you face many challenges when it comes to routine healthcare. Dental care can be especially difficult for children, since the sights, sounds, and sensations can be both uncomfortable and frightening. The following tips can help your child receive the oral health care they need while also helping your dentist create a more patient-friendly environment for children on the spectrum.
Tip #1: Request special scheduling
When making your appointment, find out if it is possible to schedule at a slow time. Some dentists are willing to take patients back to a room before they officially open in the morning, for example, so that you don't have to sit in a busy waiting room that could over-stimulate your child. If this isn't possible, at the very least find out the slowest time and schedule the appointment then. You may also be able to arrange for immediate intake, which means you can go straight to an exam room instead of sitting the waiting room.
Tip #2: Work on de-sensitization
If your child is especially sensitive to new people or events, you may need to have some lead up visits to the dental office if your child doesn't know the dentist or the staff. This could be as simple as arranging with the office to stop by for a few minutes a couple of times a week in the weeks leading up to the visit. The dentist and hygienist can greet your child and perhaps give them a mini-tour of the exam room. By the time your appointment comes, your child will be more comfortable with the staff and the dental environment.
Tip #3: Play some dental games
Dental games are another good way to help your child become less sensitive. First, read some children's books or watch some cartoons about dental visits. Make sure they are fun and pleasant. Next, acquire a plastic tooth mirror and a small electric toothbrush. Now you can play dentist together. Make a game of counting your child's teeth with the help of the mirror, and then tickling the teeth with the toothbrush. This will help your child become accustomed to the sensations of the average dental visit.
Tip #4: Be aware of sensitivities in the office
Some children have very specific sensitivities. If your child is sensitive to bright light, make sure you have full, wrap around sunglasses with you. These will work better than the small versions dentists tend to use. Touch sensitivities can make a plastic drape or bib unbearable, so make sure your child wears clothing with full enough coverage to keep the plastic off their skin. If sound is a problem, bring along headphones and device loaded with your child's favorite music. Planning ahead can go a long way toward avoiding discomfort.
Talk with a pediatric dentist to find out more on how they work with the autism community to ensure good oral health. Visit a site like http://www.desmoines-dentalassociates.com for more information.