Why A Dentist Appointment Does Not Have To Be Scary For Special Needs Children

Bright hot lights, unfamiliar smells, odd flavors, and scary noises – these are only a couple of the reasons both children and adults find a trip to the dentist to be unsettling. While taking any child to the dentist can be a battle, it is especially challenging to take a child with special needs. Fortunately, it does not have to be a challenge. There are things the parent of a special needs child can do to make his or her child comfortable at dentist visits.

Why it is Extra Scary For a Special Needs Child

While likes and dislikes vary from one special need to the next, most special needs children like structure and familiarity. Some do not like being touched and some cannot stand bright lights or loud noises. There are even some special needs children who do not do well around any people they do not know. All of these dislikes and likes are what makes a dental appointment extra scary for special needs children.

Preparing Your Child For The Appointment

Preparation is the biggest key to making a special needs child feel comfortable about going to the dentist. Your child needs to know what to expect so the experience is more familiar. Here are some quick tips to help prepare your child for his or her dental appointment:

  • Brush your child's teeth at least once a day
  • Toothpaste should have fluoride in it
  • Limit the number of sugary snacks your child has
  • Try brushing your child's teeth in a room other than his or her bedroom
  • Start taking your child to the dentist early

When you schedule your child's first appointment, make sure the dental office knows he or she is special needs. This way the dental office can make arrangements to better accommodate your child.

Consider Several Short Appointments

A lot of special needs children are more comfortable with several short dental appointments instead of one lengthy one. Consider breaking up each of these tasks into a separate short dental appointment to get your child comfortable with going:

  • A tour of the dental office
  • Playing in the dental chair and talking to the dentist
  • Letting the dentist clean his or her teeth
  • A complete dental exam

If you ease your child into going to the dentist by making each one of these tasks a separate short appointment, he or she will be less apprehensive during his or her first full examination.

The most important thing to remember is that you are the parent and you know your child better than anyone else. Only you can decide what is best for your child when it comes to dental appointments. Consider family dentistry offices to better accommodate your child's needs.