April 4, 2022
Helping a child with special needs stay on top of their dental hygiene routine can be challenging for parents. Kids with a physical, emotional, behavioral, intellectual, or communication disability might not be able to care for their teeth independently, meaning their parents or caregivers must always be there to assist them. Plus, children and parents alike could experience high levels of anxiety when it comes to visiting a pediatric dentist. Fortunately, there are ways you can help your little one enjoy caring for their smile! Here are some tips from a pediatric dentist in Homewood to make oral hygiene a little easier for those who require special needs dentistry.
Create Consistency with a Daily Routine
Does your child dislike cleaning their teeth because they hate the feeling of a toothbrush? You may have to try several brushes to find the right one. If none work, you might need to think outside the box and find an alternative to get the job done.
For some parents, swapping out the toothbrush for a clean, wet washcloth proved to be an effective solution. You let your child chew on the washcloth for a few minutes twice a day. Move it around their mouth while they are chewing to ensure all the teeth are scrubbed clean. Once you find an oral hygiene routine that works for your child, be sure you stick with it every morning and evening!
Locate a Dentist with Special Needs Experience
Not all offices are equipped for children with special needs. Some aren’t wheelchair accessible, and others may have a harsh sensory environment. Visiting a dentist who has plenty of experience working with all sorts of children can be a difference-maker in dental visits! They are more than happy to make any accommodations necessary to ensure your child will have a pleasant experience. Ask for referrals from other families within the special needs community or your child’s therapy team.
Try to Make a Child’s Checkups Fun
By striving to ensure dental visits are a fun, comfortable experience, your child will be more willing to attend their routine checkups. Here are some ways you can encourage them:
- Help your child get familiar by making practice visits beforehand
- Create a story about going to the dentist
- Read your child books about dental checkups and the importance of oral hygiene
- Schedule each part of the visit on different days (perhaps separate the cleaning, exam, and X-rays)
- Allow them to bring one familiar item for comfort (toy, blanket, or music source)
All children need to visit their dentist regularly, special needs or not. Follow these tips to encourage your little one to practice proper dental care and keep their smile happy and healthy on their journey toward adulthood!
About the Author
Dr. Angelica Rohner earned her dental doctorate from the University of Mississippi and then her advanced degree in pediatric dentistry from the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB). During a two-year internship, she completed a fellowship in interdisciplinary medicine at the UAB Sparks Center serving patients with special needs. If you are looking for a practice that can provide special needs dentistry, Dr. Rohner has the experience to help your child care for their smile. You can schedule an appointment on her website or by calling (205) 870-0892.
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