Dentistry for Children with Special Needs
Many parents of children with special needs experience are anxious about how their child will cope with dental treatment. This anxiety can lead them to not taking their children to the dentist.
There are many ways to ensure your special needs child has the best experience possible at their dental check up.
1. Timing is everything. Children may be better able to cope at particular times of the day, for example first thing in the morning when they aren't tired. Children with ADHD often manage their appointments best soon after taking their medication while their levels are still high. Diabetic children require specific sugar levels at the time of treatment to ensure they feel at their best during their appointment.
2. Familiarity breeds comfort. For all kids, but especially those with special needs such as autism spectrum disorder, fear of the unknown can create a great barrier to receiving dental care. We often find that if the child has ample opportunity to become familiarised with the dental setting their anxiety levels decrease significantly. Parents are welcome to bring their child in however many times it takes time to explore the clinic, meet staff and be shown the various parts of the dental rooms before any treatment is attempted.
3. Let's be flexible. We often have this concept of dental care as being in a specific setting where the child sits in the dental chair and receives treatment in the same fashion as adults. In reality there are many ways that the dental appointment can progress. If the child is in a wheelchair the check up can be performed with the child in their own chair. If the child is too afraid to come into the surgery the check up can be carried out in the waiting room or on the parent's lap. Indeed, there is a range of different ways we can deliver treatment. We are happy to try anything that works!
The truth is out there! Special needs dentistry is a field which has advanced significantly in the last decade for products and techniques to improve your child's dental care, in the clinic and at home. Talk to your dentist and you will discover how much easier it can be for you to care for your child's teeth more effectively.
Good dental care for your special needs child is always achievable. Dr Stephanie Salanitri has been looking after children with special needs for many years. Let her help you take care of your child's dental health.