March 25, 2022
If your child has special needs or sensory issues, then visiting the dentist can be a bit stressful for both you and them. Don’t worry – that doesn’t mean they have to miss out on the essential dental care they need. After all, strong teeth and healthy gums are essential for a confident smile, strong bite, and clear speech. With this in mind, keep reading to learn five must-know tips for special needs dentistry.
Tip #1. Find a Dentist Who Has Experience with Special Needs Dentistry
In short, you need to find a dentist who has experience treating patients with physical, behavioral, or mental disabilities. A great place to start is by asking friends and family for recommendations. Otherwise, you can search Google for “special needs dentist near me” to find a list of local dental professionals who can help.
Tip #2. Ask Lots of Questions
Once you find a dental practice that seems like a good fit for your child, it’s time to get in touch. During the initial phone call, make sure to ask lots of questions. Can you fill out the paperwork before? Is there a quiet waiting room you can sit in? Do they have the ability to make special accommodations? The answers to questions like these will help you properly plan leading up to the appointment.
Tip #3. Introduce “Going to the Dentist” in a Fun Way
When it comes time to introduce the concept of “going to the dentist,” make sure to do so in a fun way. You can purchase books or watch a fun video that depicts their favorite character getting their teeth checked. You can also buy some toy dental tools and do a trial run at home! First, you can be the dentist and have your child lean back in a chair and say “ahh.” Then, you can be the patient and let them check your teeth.
Tip #4. Bring Along Their Favorite Things
On the day of their dental appointment, you’ll want to have some of their favorite things on hand. For example, if they have a flavor of toothpaste they find enjoyable, don’t hesitate to bring the tube you have at home. If they have a blanket that instantly calms them down, allow them to use it in the treatment chair. If a certain TV show always captivates their attention, then bring an iPad cued up with their favorite episode.
Tip #5. Support the Dentist
As a parent, you may feel unsure of exactly what to do as your child is in the treatment chair. The best thing is to just support the dentist. If they ask for your help, then do what you can to assist in keeping your child calm and comfortable. If your child simply likes having you in the room, then you can sit in a chair that’s close by so your presence is always felt.
Your child deserves to have a positive and comfortable experience at their dentist’s office. Fortunately, the above tips can help you provide them with just that!
About the Author
Since earning her dental doctorate at the University of Mississippi School of Dentistry, Dr. Angelica R. Rohner has continued to prioritize advanced education. Currently, she is KultureCity Inclusive Certified, which means she has completed sensory initiative training to better treat those in her treatment chair. Plus, our team offers several resources, including sensory bags and weighted blankets. If you have a question about special needs dentistry or you’d like to schedule an appointment, don’t hesitate to visit our website or call (205) 870-0892.
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