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.
- 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.
Everyone wants bright, white teeth and healthy gums, but even the best oral hygiene may not be enough to meet your goals. The American Dental Association (ADA) recommends visiting the dentist a minimum of every six months. Some people may need more frequent visits, depending on their oral health.
Despite this recommendation, only 58 percent of American adults see the dentist at least once a year. If you’ve been putting off your next visit, learn more about the importance of regular dentist visits here.
Why Visit the Dentist?
No amount of brushing and flossing can replace having your teeth professionally cleaned. Consider these reasons why regular dentist visits are so important for good oral health:
- Prevent cavities and gum disease
- Brighten your smile
- Combat bad breath
- Stop tooth loss in its tracks
- Promote good overall health
- Save money on restorative procedures
What to Expect During a Dentist Visit
Most routine dentist visits take an hour. However, your visit could take longer if it’s been more than a year since your last dental visit or you need additional treatment for a chronic condition such as periodontal disease.
Dentist visits consist of several parts:
- Digital X-rays: Your dentist may recommend X-rays about once a year or as needed. The image produced by a digital X-ray provides a more in-depth look at what’s going on beneath the surface. It can help your dentist detect problems early on, even if you don’t have any outward symptoms yet. This saves you time and money and preserves your oral health.
- Oral exam: Your dentist examines your jaw, neck, and lymph nodes for irregularities. A mouth exam comes next, where the dentist assesses your teeth, gums, and soft tissues. This includes checking your bite, looking for damaged crowns or fillings, evaluating any dental appliances you have, and checking for signs of oral cancer.
- Teeth cleaning: A hygienist uses specialized tools to remove plaque and tartar from your teeth. Flossing then removes any debris caught between your teeth or along the gum line. Finally, polishing your teeth leaves your mouth looking and feeling cleaner than ever. You may also receive a fluoride treatment.
- Personalized recommendations: Perhaps your dentist noticed plaque buildup in a particular area or is concerned about your receding gums or eroding enamel. Your visit concludes with professional suggestions to improve your oral health, such as using a specific toothbrush or mouth rinse, coming in for more frequent cleanings, or wearing a mouthguard while you sleep. Adhering to these expert tips is the best way to keep your teeth and gums in top shape.
General dentistry is the foundation of the services we offer here at West County Dental. We can help preserve your smile with regular cleanings and checkups. We also provide restorative and cosmetic dentistry to correct any flaws in your smile. To reserve a visit with our St. Louis dentist, please call (314) 488-2921 or contact us online.
Once your child develops his first tooth, he’ll need to begin visiting a family dentist near you in St. Louis for regular dental care. Your family dentist can provide teeth cleaning, preventative dental care, and oral health screenings to ensure your child doesn’t develop cavities. The earlier your child is when he begins visiting the dentist, the less likely he is to suffer from dental fears later in life.
Watch this video to learn more about the importance of regular dentist visits for your child. Your child will learn good oral hygiene habits, and will receive professional dental care, reducing his future risk of cavities, tooth decay, gum disease, and tooth loss.
Many parents are under the impression that they need to take their child to a pediodontist to get the care they need, but this isn’t true! Dr. Spalitto regularly treats children ages two and up! Bring your family in to see the awesome team at West County Dental.
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