A Welcoming Dental Home for Kids With Autism Spectrum Disorder
A trip to the dentist can present some unique challenges for parents with kids who have autism spectrum disorder (ASD), sensory sensitivities, mobility limitations, or similar needs. A welcoming atmosphere with a team who genuinely wants to help your child feel comfortable and achieve optimal oral health is the type of practice you’ll want to make your child’s dental home.
Here’s how our team helps children with autism and other special needs feel welcome and comfortable.
1. Our dentists have extensive education in preventive care and treatment needs unique to children with special needs.
As a dedicated pediatric dental practice, our dentists provide the ultimate care in dentistry for kids. Not only are our dentists highly educated in children’s dental care, but they’ve also received additional education in specialized pediatric care as it pertains to children with ASD, mobility limitations, and other needs.
Kids with ASD or other special needs often need a helping hand to achieve and maintain optimal oral health. Our dentists can help kids achieve this with their gentle, effective approach to dental care.
2. Our team has received special training in working with children who have autism or ASD.
It’s extremely important to us that our entire team understands how to communicate and work well with all our patients, regardless of their behavioral or physical needs. From the office staff to dental assistants, our entire team has received special training and guidance in this area. This ensures that from the time you and your child enter our lobby to the point you walk out the door, you are both as comfortable as possible.
As a parent, no one knows your child better than you. We invite parents to let us know what does and doesn’t work well with their child and share any guidance they have on what makes their child feel the most comfortable and relaxed.
3. We encourage happy visits for parents and kids to come see us and our office before their actual evaluation.
Happy visits are meet-and-greet style dental appointments that involve coming in to see our office, taking a look in an exam room, and meeting our team and dentists. These can be very brief visits or, if your child is feeling comfortable, a visit similar to a care visit in which one of our dentists performs a mock exam.
Happy visits are often done for new patients, but these can also be great options for kids who benefit from more frequent visits to foster a trusting relationship with our team. For example, between their six-month routine appointments, you can always schedule a happy visit to come in and say hi.
4. We offer wonderful oral care tools and techniques to make at-home dental care easier for kids and parents.
Sensory sensitivities, mobility limitations, and similar obstacles can make at-home oral hygiene tricky. We offer parents a helping hand by recommending oral care products and oral hygiene techniques that can help their children feel more comfortable with brushing and flossing.
Together we can try a few different approaches to see what works best for your child. We also like to remind parents that if something we recommend isn’t working as planned, let us know so we can try a new method or idea. We want to work together as a team to help your child maintain optimal oral health between visits.
5. We enjoy working at your child’s pace and within their comfort level to find out what helps them feel most relaxed.
Our goal during each visit isn’t to rush through dental care as quickly as possible. It’s to match our care to your child’s pace so they feel comfortable and confident during their visit.
We are adept at reading your child’s body language and other nonverbal cues to ensure they remain stress-free throughout their appointment. For kids who are nonverbal or feel very nervous, we welcome parents to accompany their children during the exam to help us ensure the visit goes smoothly without pushing any boundaries.
6. We happily adjust our office environment, such as dimming lights and muting sounds, to help kids with sensory issues.
A dental office isn’t the most inviting atmosphere for many kids with sensory sensitivities. Between the new smells, bright lights, and strange sounds, it’s easy to understand why being in a dentist’s office can begin to feel stressful before the evaluation even begins.
If your child has these sensory needs, please let us know before the appointment, and we will do everything we can to accommodate. We can dim the lighting, mute or reduce many sounds, and remove distractions (e.g., closing the window blinds). Remember, we are here to help your child feel comfortable, so please don’t hesitate to let us know what we can do.
7. We can schedule appointments at times when the office isn’t as busy and waiting time is virtually nonexistent.
Many parents of kids with autism or similar needs have found that waiting in a lobby can become quite stressful, especially if they’re expected to sit and wait over 10 minutes. We combat this reception-room-anxiety effect by gladly booking visits during times of the day when we aren’t as busy, such as the early morning.
You can also give our team a heads-up that your child doesn’t do well in reception rooms. We’ll do our very best to prepare for your child to come back to a room when you arrive. This helps ensure a seamless transition between your car, our reception room, and the patient chair.
8. We provide safe sedation-dentistry options, ranging from light nitrous oxide to full general anesthesia.
Sedation dentistry is a great tool for creating a safer, more relaxing experience for kids with ASD or other needs.
We provide a range of sedation options, from in-office nitrous oxide to hospital dentistry under full sedation. Nitrous oxide is perfect for helping nervous or overexcited kids relax during routine evaluations, preventive cleanings, or simple treatments. Moderate sedation can be used for more-nervous children, while hospital dentistry under full sedation is typically saved for cases in which children are very fearful or extensive treatment is necessary.
Schedule your child’s first appointment or happy visit today.
Ready to book a preventive care appointment or happy visit for your child? You can schedule a visit today by calling your preferred We Make Kids Smile location in Prince Frederick or Waldorf, Maryland. Outside of business hours, you can also use our online request form.