Protecting the Oral Health of Your Child with Autism
If there’s one word to remember when you and your child with autism navigate the world of oral hygiene, it’s “gradual.” Gradually have your child adjust to the first toothbrush, or to a new toothbrush, perhaps by just having it touch the lips at first. Practice the steps of toothbrushing in a favorite room, then gradually move the activity to the bathroom. Post a follow-along series of photos showing each step involved in toothbrushing. And gradually get your child used to the idea of visiting KiDDS Dental, even if the first visit just involves stopping at our front door.
Because the needs of children with autism have become better understood in recent years, we know more about strategies to maintain and improve their dental health. For instance, some children with autism respond very well to a time-oriented cue such as an hourglass, timer or clock; you can utilize such a tool to show how long brushing, or eventually brushing and flossing, should take. That sense of predictability can make the task much more palatable and make the child feel calmer when doing it. So can rewards for completion, whether in the form of verbal praise, stickers or another desired item.
To make your child’s experiences in our office as stress-free as possible, we will work with you to determine the best environment to provide. Will he or she want to watch a specific video? Have you remain in the room? Wear headphones to reduce outside noise or to listen to music? Or even wear a lead apron as a sensory tool to create a feeling of calm?
Dr. Jared and his clinical team very much want your child’s visits to be successful, so please be upfront with us about your child’s current situation. We may ask pre-examination questions that cover a range of topics, from progress in the classroom to how your child responds to haircuts. With honesty, creativity and a respect for your child’s limits, we can help make dental care visits less worrisome for everyone involved.
Call us to schedule an appointment today! 509-891-7070. We’d love to meet you and your family!