If you have a child with special needs, understanding the challenges that may arise when taking them to the dentist is essential. There are some common but consequential mistakes being made by well-intentioned parents when it comes to getting dental care for their kids.
Many Have Come Before You
Feedback from parents and dentists over the years provide us with a better understanding of what to expect from our kids when faced with a new environment. Many are set off by the lights and sounds of the dental office, and often react poorly to a stranger using their hands and tools into their mouths to treat dental issues.
The following tips can help you avoid common pitfalls and decrease your child’s chances of developing a debilitating fear of the dentist.
- Teach Your Child about Their Teeth Early – Begin caring gently for your baby’s teeth as soon as their first tooth emerges. Celebrate the occasion with your baby and repeat each time a new tooth appears. You might want to read young children stories about their teeth and receiving dental care. Learning about the smile early will encourage children to value their teeth, leading to better oral habits in the future.
- Arrange a No-Stress Dental Visit with a Pediatric Dentist at Age One – Too many parents are caught by surprise when a general dentist refuses to treat their child. A good family dental provider will sense their young patients’ ability or inability to receive treatment at that moment and will often refer children with special needs to a pediatric dentist.
Use the first visit as a casual meeting with the dentist to familiarize your child to the dental office, chair, and tools. Most pediatric dentists have the skill and chairside manner to put children at ease. They are also experienced with using sedation when necessary.
- Don’t Skip Dental Appointments – Even if your child is struggling with a fear of the dentist, avoiding the problem will not solve it. All children require dental treatment to preserve and restore their teeth, and a trusted pediatric dentist should be able to help you remove any roadblocks. Rather than missing visits, find a dentist that has the patience and compassion needed to change your child’s opinion of dental care.
- Turn Their At-Home Oral Hygiene Routine into Quality Family Time – Without pressuring them, try to make a habit of brushing and flossing together. Spending time with your child gives you an opportunity to encourage him or her to use the proper techniques and praise them for a job well done. When you create happy experiences for them to associate with caring for their teeth, they are more apt to put time and effort into maintaining their smile.
When it comes to at-home oral hygiene, special needs children may not brush long enough and strongly resist help from you or any other caregiver. Inconsistent hygiene habits increase their risk of cavities, gum disease, and related illnesses.
Talk to us about fluoride treatments and sealants to help protect your child’s smile. Call Cumming Pediatric Dentistry and Orthodontics today to learn more ways to help your child maintain or improve their oral health.