A routine visit to the dentist can be extremely difficult for children with special needs such as Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). Although the manifestations of autism vary from one individual to the next, kids with ASD typically experience challenges with communication, social interaction, and may display restrictive behaviours and interests. While some children are completely non-verbal, others may be able to speak in full sentences, yet still require support to express themselves or understand instructions. Children with ASD may experience heightened sensitivities to their environment that make the lights, sounds, smells, and tactile sensations in a dentist’s chair uncomfortable, even painful.
A caring and compassionate approach by the paediatric dental team is paramount in order to build trust with your child and family. Maintaining your child’s oral health is vital and should start early, to avoid serious complications or concerns.
The team at Kids Dental Group is highly trained to deliver a variety of dental services for children with special needs. Our top priority is making you and your child feel as comfortable as possible.
Some ways we can help your child with autism:
Social stories are simple stories that contain pictures and use few words to provide a step-by-step description of exactly what will happen at each visit. Because individuals with ASD are very visual and routine-driven, letting them know exactly what to expect ahead of time can help mitigate any anxiety during the visit.
Some children also respond well to rewarding or reinforcing activities during or after their visit, such as special toys, movies, and games.
For children with sensory issues, it may be necessary to schedule frequent “desensitizing” visits in which the child is gradually exposed to the clinical setting and process. For instance, the first visit could simply involve meeting the hygienist and sitting in the chair, with the child eventually allowing the dentist to look inside their mouth.
In some cases, it may be necessary for a child to undergo a form of sedation—mild or “conscious” sedation or sedation via a general anaesthetic—to enable the dentist to perform a procedure. As always, our team at Kids Dental Group is happy to discuss any concerns or questions you may have involving your child’s treatment. Contact us at our Markham (905 294 0995) | Richmond Hill (905 709 3888) | Stouffville (905 642 3642) location. We would love to hear from you!