Do you dread taking your child to the dentist because you worry that he may have a HUGE meltdown? Try using the following strategies to prepare your child for his check up and teeth cleaning.
- Find a good, and preferably a recommended pediatric dentist in your area.
- Meet with the dentist first to explain your child’s individual needs.
- Ask the dentist to tell you step-by-step what will be involved in your child’s visit. Make a list of each part of the visit to share with your child.
- Take photographs of the dentist, receptionist, the chair, the x-ray machine, the toothbrush, and any other items that the dentist may use.
- Make a picture schedule for your child. (Autism Consulting and Training, Inc. creates custom designed visual schedules. Email info@AutismConsultingandTraining.com for more information.) Remember to put a picture at the end of the schedule showing where he is going next. You don’t want your child to think that he has to stay at the dentist forever!
- Create a short social story book about going to the dentist. You can use the same pictures as on the picture schedule for this.
- Use an electric toothbrush at home to help your child get used to the sound of the equipment the dentist will use.
- Take your child to the dentist’s office at least once during the week before his scheduled dental check-up and cleaning. Have him sit in the chair and experience all the sounds that come with a visit to the dentist’s office. Remember, there are many new sights, sounds, and smells that your child may never have experienced if this is his first visit. For a child with sensory issues, the dentist’s office can be overwhelming. Be patient and considerate of your child’s sensory needs.
- If your child enjoys music, let him bring his MP3 player with him, or allow your child to bring his favorite toy. If he likes to fidget, bring a toy that will keep his hands busy.
- If loud sounds overwhelm your child, allow him to wear earplugs or noise-dampening earmuffs.
- If the bright office lights bother him, try letting your child wear sunglasses inside.
- For more information about going to the dentist, check out this video from Autism Speaks™:
Going to the dentist can be scary for any child, but especially for a child with Autism. Preparation is the key for a successful trip to the dentist. Taking some extra steps to prepare your child for the visit will help to eliminate a lot of anxiety and stress for both you and your child.
For more tools and techniques to help your child, be sure to check out our Autism Parent Tool Kit™ DVD Home Study Program. Click here for more information.
Editor: Ymkje Wideman