Autism Awareness Month is celebrated each April to promote acceptance, awareness, and celebration of the 1-in-54 children affected by this complex developmental condition.
All parents may feel some apprehension over trying to provide their child with optimal dental health, and this feeling may be amplified for parents for children with Autism. The doctors and staff at Pediatric Dentistry and Orthodontic Specialists of Michigan have lots of experience providing care to children that require special consideration and can assure you that there are many ways to help your child avoid tooth decay and gum disease. We also know that the most routine daily tasks can be difficult for parents of children with autism. As their caregiver, you know your child’s needs better than anyone. You understand how your child best handles all kinds of tasks like choosing clothes, eating and self-care steps like brushing their teeth.
Here are some things that might help you achieve your goal of keeping your child’s smile healthy.
Encourage Independence with Toothbrushing
Try having your child choose their own toothbrush. Perhaps they’re attracted to a certain color or animated character. An electric toothbrush can be used if your child is comfortable with the added stimulation.
Make brushing a habit that is done at least twice a day. Since children with autism often prefer to follow a familiar routine, this habit will make oral hygiene easier for everyone. Let them brush their own teeth—using a two-minute timer to make sure it’s long enough—and follow up behind them if they’ll let you. The more fun you make it, the easier it will be.
There are a number of dental apps for phones and tablets that can make brushing even more appealing by associating the task with things our children already enjoy.
Make Dental Checkups Routine and Predictable
Regular preventative checkups are easier and more comfortable. When your child gets the routine preventative services they need, they’re more comfortable with their dental encounters and are less likely to have a problem with their teeth than when visits are few and far between. Waiting until there’s a problem to treat can cause added anxiety and unnecessary discomfort as teeth may become infected and painful or require extra visits to be repaired.
Consider making short, frequent trips to our office for regular screenings and interactions with our staff. That way we can catch issues before they become more serious, and your child will already have a relationship with our providers and our clinical office setting.
Dental Care for Children with Autism
Pediatric Dentistry and Orthodontic Specialists of Michigan aims to be a leader in providing access to care for children with autism and other special needs. We offer private office tours and consultation areas which are particularly helpful in easing the transition to our office. We have also established long-term partner relationships with local hospitals to provide extra special care when it is necessary. Contact us today to schedule your family’s first visit!