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If your child has autism, you may dread the daily brushing and flossing sessions, particularly if your child doesn't like the idea of inserting items into his or her mouth or has texture issues.
Dental appointments may be especially challenging for both you and your son or daughter. In fact, visits to the dentist can be so difficult that you eventually decide to skip appointments. Because children who have autism are more likely to experience certain dental issues, delaying treatment may mean that your son or daughter will eventually require extensive dental work in the future.
What Dental Conditions Affect Children with Autism?
Your child may be more likely to suffer from:
How Can I Improve My Child's Oral Hygiene and Make Dental Visits Less Stressful?
Repetition, modeling and patience are key to convincing your child to brush and floss. In addition to demonstrating tooth brushing on yourself and on your child's favorite toys, look for online videos that show children calmly brushing their teeth. If routine is very important to your son or daughter, use drawings or photographs to illustrate every step in the brushing process, and make sure that you don't deviate from any of the steps.
The taste of toothpaste can be an issue for some children. You may need to try several flavors before you find one that your child will tolerate
When oral hygiene is a concern, limiting sugary or carbohydrate-heavy snacks can be helpful in preventing tooth decay. Eating hard vegetables like carrots or apples can help dislodge plaque from your child's mouth. If your child does eat candy occasionally, avoid sticky candies. Gummy bears, caramels and other treats stick to teeth for hours and can increase your child's cavity risk.
Look for a dentist who has experience working with children with autism and welcomes these patients. Ask the dentist how he or she will help your child become more comfortable with dental visits. Strategies may include:
Creating a positive dental experience for your child can help ensure that he or she receives needed care and doesn't balk at the idea of future trips to the dentist. When you choose a dentist who is committed to making the experience as comfortable as possible, visits will become much more productive.
Have you given up on finding a dentist who has the patience and compassion to work with your child? We understand the needs of children with autism and want to work with you to make the experience as positive as possible. Please call us to schedule an appointment for your child.
National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research: Practical Oral Care for People with Autism
American Speech-Language-Hearing Association: Autism Awareness Month, 4/21/15
Pediatric Dentistry: Listening to Parents: A Qualitative Look at the Dental and Oral Care Experiences of Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder, 11/15
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