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Taking Your Special Needs Child To The Dentist: Do’s & Don’ts

By March 21, 2022 No Comments
The do's and don'ts o taking your special needs child to the dentist

Taking your child to the dentist can be difficult enough at times. Those problems are quickly magnified when your child has special needs. Some special needs children have sensory issues and don’t like to be touched by anyone, let alone a dentist. Some special needs children may have a fear of new people and places that are outside their comfort zone. 

Whatever, the situation may be for your special needs child, the staff at Pediatric Smiles is here to help. At Pediatric Smiles, we’ve provided dental care to many special needs patients over the years. As a result, our staff has learned a lot of things that can help make your job as a parent much easier. 

Here is a quick list of do’s and don’ts that can make your special needs child’s trip to the dentist a much smoother experience for everyone involved.

DO Introduce Your Special Needs Child to the Dental Staff Before Your Appointment

Many children with special needs can struggle with new places and new faces. In fact, it is probably the largest obstacle to overcome when it comes to treating patients with special needs. We recommend scheduling a time for you to come tour the office and meet the dental staff prior to your scheduled appointment. This will help set your child’s mind more at ease and help them avoid their “stranger danger” trigger. 

🚫DON’T Fail to Prepare Your Child Before They Even Step Foot In the Dentist’s Office

Prior to even coming on a tour of the office, it is usually a good idea to start to prepare your special needs child for the dentist while they are at home. There are lots of resources available to help parents accomplish this. One of the best that we have seen is using books. Books help introduce your child to the fact that dentists even exist, where they may not have even known otherwise. Here are a few that we recommend:

DO Consult With Your Dentist About All Sedation Options

For children, a visit to the dentist can potentially go a number of different ways. If not handled carefully, a hopefully positive experience can quickly change to fear, crying, screaming and resistance to treatment. Experiences like that can take years to overcome. Knowing if sedation is necessary or not can make or break the entire experience. The best thing to do would be to talk to your dentist beforehand about what you are comfortable with as a parent. When you schedule your appointment with Pediatric Smiles of Orem, ask the staff about our Smart Step Sedation process.

🚫DON’T Be Alarmed If Your Special Needs Child Has Different Dental Needs

Sometimes, children with special needs need dental treatment for issues that aren’t as common to other children. For example, children with developmental disabilities may suffer more from malocclusion, when the upper and lower teeth don’t align when the mouth is closed, more than other children. The way we see it, every child is different. Therefore, every child will have different dental needs. Just because your child’s needs aren’t as common as others isn’t a cause for alarm.

DO Be Present With Your Special Needs Child Throughout The Entire Appointment

Even if you have gone through the process of preparing them for the dentist at home and touring the office with them prior to your appointment, your special needs child may still be nervous about the entire process. At Pediatric Smiles, we do our best to accommodate parents during the appointment so they can be present throughout its entirety. Sometimes, simply knowing that you are in the room with them will be enough to calm their nerves. 

🚫DON’T Forget to Practice, Practice, Practice

Parent’s have given us a lot of feedback over the years. As a result, we’ve gotten some unique insight into how other parents of special needs children have helped prepare their child to visit the dentist. One unique practice that we have seen help is when parents practice with their children beforehand. Take on the role of “dentist” and use the end of a toothbrush to look inside your child’s mouth. Or use a mirror with your child to look at their teeth. This will get them used to the kinds of things they will experience when they go to the dentist’s office. 

DO Bring Sources of Comfort From Home For Your Special Needs Child

If your child has a favorite blanket or toy that is a source of comfort for them, feel free to bring it to the appointment. Is there a particular song that your special needs child loves to hear? Make sure you tell the dentist and they can play it in the background. Does your child love a particular TV show or movie? Tell your dentist and they will talk with your child about it to help comfort them. 

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