How to Keep a Child on the Autism Spectrum Comfortable at the Dentist
Many kids are anxious about visiting the dentist, but an appointment can be even more intimidating for a little one affected by autism. Luckily, there are some steps parents can take to help a child on the spectrum have the best possible experience. Here’s a helpful guide.
How to Prepare a Child With Autism for a Dental Checkup
Speak to your family dentist about what will happen during the appointment so you know what to expect. Using this information, create a visual schedule to prepare your child for what will happen. Print pictures online or draw the dental office, including images of every step of the process. For example, draw your family checking in at the front desk and waiting, then your little one sitting in the dentist’s chair. Review the visual story with your child often before the appointment so they become comfortable with the steps involved.
Many children with autism benefit from familiarity, so bringing a few comforting objects can be helpful. The object may be a beloved toy, a comfortable blanket, or another belonging that makes them happy.
What to Do During the Appointment
At the beginning of the session, have your dentist introduce your child to some dental instruments. Handling and examining the tools may help them feel more comfortable around them.
Children on the spectrum can also be sensitive to sensory input, so bright lights and noisy tools can cause distress. Give your little one a pair of sunglasses and earplugs to keep them calm throughout the exam.
If your child has particular flavors they dislike, let the dentist know. Many family dentistry professionals carry children’s toothpaste with sweet flavors, which might be right for your child if they dislike strong mint-based products.
If you seek a dentist you can trust to care for your family, turn to Splendental in Columbus, OH. This family dentistry practice offers patient-centered care in a comfortable environment. Dr. Douglas Nartker is a compassionate and experienced professional, and a proud member of the American Dental Association. Visit their website for more information about their office, or call (614) 588-0678 to schedule an appointment.