How You Can Help Your Loved One With Special Needs Manage Their Dental Care

How You Can Help Your Loved One With Special Needs Manage Their Dental Care

No one particularly enjoys going to the dentist. It’s even a point of anxiety for a lot of dental patients. The smell, the vulnerability, the sharp and shiny tools in your mouth… even the bravest of manly men cower in the reclining chair. It can be hard to convince your loved ones to go to the dentist, especially when they really need it. Imagine the challenge when you need dental work for your loved ones with special needs.

Those with special needs often have issues with sensory processing – they are easily frightened, overwhelmed, pained, and anxious. Doing strange things is often difficult, so the dentist can be terrifying. Sitting still while a stranger sticks sharp objects in your mouth, while you can’t see or talk, seems impossible. Yet dental care is critical, especially for children. So what can you do?

Parents of children with special needs can consider the following options to help their child have a calm and successful trip to the dentist:

  • Talk with your child beforehand. Start early and begin sharing with your child exactly what will happen when they go to the dentist, and why it’s important that they go. Give your child a chance to express fears and ask questions.
  • Play Dentist! Show your child what might happen at the dentist by playing pretend – then let them pretend to be the dentist on YOU as a patient.
  • Shop around. Not all dental offices are prepared to help a child with special needs. Ask friends or parents of other special needs kids where they prefer to receive dental care. You may even be interested in taking a tour of a dental office beforehand.
  • Prep the Dentist. Once you’ve found an office and dentist that will meet the needs of your special needs child – prepare them. If your child has certain triggers or needs certain routines you should run them by the dentist beforehand. You can also make requests for the dental office like dim lighting, music, or a code word for when your child might need a break.
  • Bring Calming Tools. If your child needs a blanket, toy, pillow, or anything else for comfort – bring it! Consider headphones or even an iPad with their favorite TV show or movie.
  • Stay Close, Keep Talking. Often all a child needs is to know their parent is nearby and involved to help them feel safe. Remain close by, even holding their hand or rubbing their leg if necessary. Talk to them and the dentist frequently so your child knows everything is ok.

If going to the dentist has you stressing out, take a deep breath for you and your child. There are dentist offices out there that are willing to meet the needs of those with sensory disorders or special needs. All it takes is some preparation and compassion to make a dental trip successful.

Share This:


Speak Your Mind