Children with autism spectrum disorder occupy a special place in our hearts here at Dentistry for Children, Oviedo.
Our style of comforting, compassionate care is especially appealing to children with autism spectrum disorder. Dr. King has over 20 years of experience in providing special needs children with the exactly the right touch of focus and attention.
Over the years, Dr. Troy King’s patient roster has included young patients with Cerebral Palsy, Brain Stem Injuries, Down syndrome, Fetal Alcohol Syndrome, Cleft Palette and Autism Spectrum Disorder. Dr. King personalizes his relationship with each young patient, giving them unique and individualized treatment depending on each child’s personality, mood and sense of humor.
Dr. King and the Child with Autism Spectrum Disorder
Moreover, he and the dental healthcare specialists on his staff understand the unique challenges of a dental visit for a child with autism spectrum disorder. When you and your child arrive at Dentistry for Children, expect to see gentleness, patient humor and expertise.
With a little strategy, we believe parents and dentists alike can improve the quality of the dental experience for kids with autism.
Therefore, below, you will find some of our favorite hints and tips to prepare your child for a dental visit. As a blogger for children with special needs has recently said, “with the right dentist and staff who are experienced with special needs, it can make a world of difference for your child.”
Tip 1: Role-Playing Dentist At Home When Your Child Has Autism
Before you even try an actual visit, acclimate your child to the concept of dentistry with a little role-playing. With a toothbrush, dental mirror (even a toy one,) and a little bit of time, you can practice a little dentist’s exam role-playing. Will your child lay in a reclined position, place hands on their tummy and open their mouth wide?
Using his or her toothbrush and a mirror, can you pretend a little dental exam? Perhaps you can even count teeth.
We have found some beautiful guidelines for this game on the online source, Autism Speaks. Basically, it all starts with tooth brushing, a health care activity that can be a challenge if a child has autism.
“For some children with autism, brushing teeth can be difficult. The sensation can be uncomfortable at first, and the child may need to be desensitized. You may want to start by using the toothbrush to touch your child’s lips or just inside the mouth. You may also want to teach your child to “open wide,” so that this direction is understood. Showing your child how you brush your own teeth may also be helpful.”
Tip 2: Brushing Guidance for the Child with Autism
We found their guide for step-by-step brushing of your child’s teeth to be especially helpful to parents. Abbreviated in a few of our own words, here are their beginning steps brushing the teeth of a child with Autism Spectrum Disorder.
The Stance: Stand behind your child with their head laid gently on your chest.
The Paste: Put a pea-sized amount of toothpaste on the center of the brush.
The Pose: Guide the brush as if you were brushing your own teeth.
Recommended: a Proper Brushing Whether You have Autism Spectrum Disorder or Not:
At Dentistry for Children, we are always reminding adults as well as children how to properly brush:
Brushing Review For Your Child With ASD and For You Too!
- Brush the outside, inside and tops of the bottom back teeth on one side of the mouth five times.
- Move up and brush the inside, outside and chewing surfaces of the top teeth five times.
- Brush the bottom front teeth outside and inside five times.
D. Move to the opposite side and brush the bottom teeth outside and inside five times.
E. Brush the top front teeth inside, outside, and chewing surfaces five times.
F. Brush the opposite top back teeth inside, outside, and chewing surfaces five times.
G. Altogether, this process should take a minimum of 2 minutes.
Here’s a Five-Star Tip for Teaching Tooth-Brushing to Children with Autism
Yes, we know it is customary to brush teeth in the bathroom. But if your child has Autism Spectrum Disorder, the bathroom might not be their most comfortable and secure place.
- Who says you cannot learn about dentistry on a couch in the den?
- or How about role-playing at a cozy kitchen table?
The bottom line is to utilize a place in the home where your child is the most relaxed. That’s where brushing as well as the dental role-playing game can best benefit the child.
The Parent’s Photo Shoot: Planning a Dental Visit for Your Child with Autism
With a little bit of planning, you can take pictures of the dentist’s building here in Oviedo, the office, the play area, a dental exam chair, and perhaps you can even catch a shot of the dentist himself. Just call us beforehand and let us know you will be dropping by.
Then, at home, you can show the child the photos and allow him or her to become familiar with the area and the dental environment before the actual appointment. According to the experts, “The more the child sees the pictures and becomes familiar with the environment, the better it will be.” Visual support is very important to kids on the spectrum and adds a great level of communication to your preparation for the dental visit.
With Autism Spectrum Disorder, Your Child’s Comfort Comes First
Parents often bring blankets, toys, stuffed animals or other reassuring objects. Sometimes a child can be soothed by wearing sunglasses because the bright white examination light seems blinding and lead to sensory overload.
We plan plenty of time here at Dentistry for Children when you schedule your time child’s dental visit with us. We also strive to schedule you and your child for the utmost privacy so the office is quiet.
Waiting can make a child with ASD very anxious and miserable, so again, we adjust the schedule for immediate attention.
Likewise, we can take breaks during the appointment if your child becomes stressed or upset by the examination or the procedure.
We are also aware you might need to depart quickly after the doctor completes the exam or procedure, for the comfort of your child. Don’t worry, the doctor can talk to you by phone after the appointment to explain the details of his examination. The immediate consideration is to soothe your child’s distress by allowing you to return home to his or her most secure, familiar environment.
Sadly, for some children with Autism Spectrum Disorder, no amount of strategy can offset the stress-inducing situation of a dental examination. However, you will not find a more prepared, patient and compassionate dentist than Dr. Troy King. Visit with him at Dentistry for Children in Oviedo, where we not only accept your child’s unique individuality, we embrace it.