Dentist visits can be scary for many. For those with autism, a trip to the dentist may be even scarier. The sights, sounds, smells and sensations can be overwhelming.
If you’re caring for an autistic child or adult, here are some tips to help make visiting the dentist a positive experience.
Tip 1: Practice visiting the dentist
Don’t let the first trip to the dentist be the first trip to the dentist. New experiences can cause a lot of anxiety for those with autism. So, why not do a practice run at home? It can help your child or loved one know what to expect when they have her first dental visit. Make a game out of the activities they’ll have to do in the dental chair, like opening wide, staying still, and listening for instructions.
Tip 2: Schedule a dentist meet and greet
Your dentist wants to help you get the best care you can for your child or loved one. Ask if they’ll schedule a meet and greet visit to help familiarize them with the office and staff and dentist’s tools.
Pro tip: When it’s time for the actual visit, bring a special comfort item, like a stuffy or blanket.
Tip 3: Create a positive dental routine
Creating and maintaining routine is key for an autistic child or adult. Make good dental habits part of their routine. Incorporate as much fun and positivity into the routine as you can. Get a soft-bristled toothbrush with their favorite character on it. Try different flavors of toothpaste to find the one they like best.
Once you figure out which techniques and items work, lock those things into a routine.
Pro tip: Talk to your dentist for tips and tricks on how to teach good dental habits to your autistic child or loved one.
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