Helping Patients Make Healthy Choices… Please Call Us Today

Helping Children with Autism during Dentist Visits

Many children feel overwhelmed at dentist visits, but there’s a whole different set of challenges for kids with autism. Autism spectrum disorder makes it difficult to sit still for long periods, especially in an unfamiliar setting. Children may also experience sensory overload from the bright lights, the sensation of tooth-cleaning devices, and the taste of treatment products. To top it all off, kids on the autism spectrum often lack the communication skills to understand what’s happening or express their feelings.

These combined factors can make dentist visits downright scary for a child with autism. If your son or daughter struggles to make it through dentist visits, these tips may help.

Setting the Appointment

  • Choose a time of day when your child tends to be the calmest.
  • Explain to the dentist that your child has autism and what behaviors you expect may arise during the visit.
  • Request a private treatment room, if possible, to minimize distractions.
  • Ask if you can bring your child early to tour the office and see what instruments the dentist will be using.

Planning Ahead

  • Look up photos of the family dentist and other dental team members and explain who they are to your child.
  • Watch social stories on YouTube about dental visits.
  • Prepare something fun for your child once the appointment is over. Explain the reward in advance to help your child feel excited about going to the dentist.


  • Pretend to be at the dentist while you’re at home. Use the couch or a recliner as a makeshift dentist’s chair.
  • Have your child lie down and practice running through the instructions they will receive at the dentist—put your hands on your stomach, put your feet out straight, and open your mouth wide.
  • Ask your child to hold still while you count their teeth, shine a flashlight in their mouth, and even tap their teeth with a rubber-tipped gum massager. Set a timer to help you gradually increase the time in the chair.
  • Talk about X-rays with your child.

The team at West County Dental provides family dental care to patients of all ages and abilities. If you’re concerned about reserving a visit for your child with autism spectrum disorder, rest assured that we can accommodate your needs. Our goal is to ensure a pleasant visit for everyone! To learn more about our St. Louis dental services, please call us at (314) 488-2921 or contact us online.