The Seattle Children’s Hospital published information on how the best kids dentists treat children with autism, something we do regularly at Cute Smiles 4 Kids. Understandably, it can be difficult for all children to have a doctor or dentist appointment. The atmosphere is typically bright and sterile, the people are unfamiliar, and sitting still in a chair isn’t fun. This can be even more challenging for children with autism.
We have addressed this issue in our office by incorporating things that are familiar to kids. This way they don’t feel like they are in a foreign place, but rather somewhere with recognizable traits. For example, our examination rooms have cartoon characters on the wall and we can play their favorite movie while they are having dental work done. Our lobby is full of fun toys which also improves their experience.
As the best kids dentist in town, we also offer tours for children and their parents. This can help a child to relax when they actually do come in for a dental exam. After having met our staff and viewed our office, they tend to feel more comfortable and anxiety is greatly reduced. This is a gradual way to introduce them to the dentist.
At home, we recommend playing dentist with your child. Take a stuffed animal and examine its teeth then let your child exam yours. You can play this game repeatedly so that they learn what to expect when it is their turn to have their teeth examined. Reminding them of the time you spent playing together can help in the moment.
We recommend that the visits start out gradually. Instead of trying to rush the experience and immediately clean your child’s teeth, we suggest that autistic patients go at a pace that they control. For example, on the visit following a tour they may be comfortable enough to sit in a chair and speak with the dentist but not comfortable enough to have them touch their mouth. In this case, we can shine a light into their mouth and look without starting the actual teeth cleaning. On the next visit, they may be comfortable and let us complete a teeth cleaning. The bottom line is that when a child is uncomfortable, taking the time to get them used to dental care is worth it. Our goal is to keep our patients healthy for life, and it starts with introducing dental care in a way that they will remember positively.
If your child has autism, you can count on the entire team at Cute Smiles 4 Kids to treat them with care and respect. When scheduling an appointment let us know of any challenges you have been having and how we can help to make your child’s dental visit a more enjoyable experience. We will work with you to develop a treatment plan that works for everyone in the family. If this requires taking it slow – we are happy to do so. Call today and experience why we are the best kids dentist in town.