Dental Braces and Autism

Patty - posted on 02/01/2011 ( 13 moms have responded )

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My sons dentist recently told me that my son needs braces. His big teeth are coming in and the back ones are coming in twisted. I was told although he does need braces that he is NOT a candidate to get braces. I asked him if I should look for another dentist that WILL give him braces and he told me that I wont find any dentist willing to put braces on him, because of the severity of his autism, his solution is to pull one of his big teeth (a molar) to solve the problem? I don't like his "solution" if my son needs braces then I think he should get them. Does anyone else have an autistic child with braces? I don't want him to have crooked teeth all of his life

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Karen - posted on 02/20/2011

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Our son is 14 and had top braces put on last Wed. He is having a tough time and hardly opening his mouth nor eating or drinking much at all. He is very sad. I am pureeing all his food and having to make it him eat a few bites. I am gving him motrin but he is suffering. I will wait aniother day and then call dentist. Not sure this is going to work. He typed a letter to the dentist asking him to please remove them!Heartbreaking!

Amy - posted on 09/10/2012

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Hi, my name is Dr. amy and i am a anesthesiologist dentist. i specialize in helping special needs kids and adults. yes, they can get braces, i personally had put a child top sleep to add braces on him. If you are in living in the california area, you can call me at 6262888008. i would be glad to answer all of your questions or make an appointment with me.

[deleted account]

It sounds like your child could really benefit from braces. I was nervous about my daughter getting any dental apparatus installed because of her extreme mouth sensitivity. She had a few options and it was a toss-up between serial extractions or headgear now, with braces in a few years when her 12-year molars grew in (she's only 8). Neither one of us liked the idea of removing perfectly good teeth, just to make room, so we went with the headgear. She is doing great with it. If your son can handle the braces, I would go that route. Cleaning crooked teeth in a sensitive mouth is hard and not being able to clean them properly due to their being crooked could lead to a lot of cavities and uncomfortable dental visits in the future. I would rather my child have braces than a lot of restorative work (fillings, root canals, extractions) later.

If your son does not go to a pediatric dentist with a lot of experience with special needs children, I would switch. She will not only have the tools to make cleanings more comfortable, but will likely have access to a special needs friendly orthodontist to refer you to as well.

If you use iTunes apps, there is a good one called My Healthy Smile. It has social stories about caring for teeth and various dental procedures (including braces).

Theresa - posted on 02/09/2011

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I would really weigh the need for braces...I would never consider braces for my moderately ASD child as he pulled every remotely loose tooth out way before it should have been, because he couldn't stand the way it felt. I would expect him to rip out his braces as well....not worth it.

Aimee - posted on 02/08/2011

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I suspect that as with anything else, we'll never really know until we try what the outcome will be! Unfortunately, some experiments come with a higher price tag than others...but in our case, we'll go ahead and take the chance since it may not be as hard on my son as it has been for others...it'll come down to personal/family circumstances!

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Jennifer - posted on 02/14/2011

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We have gone through the same situation with my son, he was born with a cleft lip and palate, and is moderately autistic. Now at the age of 9 he needs another repair and braces, the specialists at the Children's hospital do not want to touch him because of his Autism. I have fought with them for 3 years about it being that we go to a clinic every year. They refuse to even try, even though they do not say it is because of his Autism, it is because of that reason. It makes me so mad so now we are going to go to a different Children's hospital to their clinic because in our speech therapist's opinion, his mouth is hindering his speech and that is causing more frustration which equals more meltdowns. All I can say is good luck and you never know until you try!! Best wishes on your venture!

Michelle - posted on 02/08/2011

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I worry about this with my daughter, she has a severly buck tooth and it is (of course) front and center. It has to be corrected, but the only choice are braces or a false tooth. A false tooth for an 8 year old doesn't strike me as right but with her sensory issues even the regular dentist visit (whom she actually likes) is a big issue. Thanks for all the perspectives. Unfortunately there's only one special needs dentist in our area that I've found and it is a 45 minute drive, without traffic. I could never do orthodontia that took us 3 hours each visit.

Debbie - posted on 02/08/2011

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My son is going through the process of getting braces. His orthodontic is just waiting for a couple of teeth to fall out. My son's teeth are fairly big and he has teeth growing in front of teeth.



I am not 100% sure whether he will cope but have to try as the way his teeth are now he has great difficulties in cleaning them, even though he does try.



Good luck as I know it is frustrating that if your child has special needs you seem to have to fight for everything.

Kristi - posted on 02/08/2011

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My son has Aspergers/PDD and had braces for 4 years to correct a severe overbite. Unfortunately, he kept pulling his braces out of his mouth! He doesn't really feel pain and he would literally rip the wires out and pop off the brackets. The ortho was getting frustrated and we asked him to double wire his mouth - making it harder for him to rip out. The ortho was reluctant to do that because he didn't want to inflict pain on my son, but he did and Austin stepped up to the challenge - pulling his braces out even quicker.

After the ortho took off the braces, he gave my son a retainer to wear at night. But he would put it in his mouth when he said "good-night" and then would promptly take it out. It didn't take long for his overbite to come back - and it seems like it's worse now.

Last year we took Austin to a pediatric dentist who specializes in kids/adults with special needs (our son is now 15). The dentist said that we need to accept that our son is who he is and was never a good candidate for braces, but no one could have known that. In fact, Austin's dental problems are so severe (because he doesn't take care of his teeth well), the dentist suggested surgery so he can correct everything at once - said that's best with Autistic kids. Although, we haven't done it yet because of the cost.

Hope this helps! I just thought I'd throw out my story because it was all so eye-opening for us - we never knew the extent of Austin's sensory issues before this and would have never dreamed he'd pull his braces out! It ended up being an expensive lesson learned. Talking to the pediatric dentist really helped us put things in perspective.

Aimee - posted on 02/08/2011

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My 7 yr old son (PDD-nos) just saw the orthodontist for crossbite this month...we're just waiting until we have the $$ before we start his treatment. We've been talking a lot to him about it, and he's excited to get his "mouth jewelry," and has been more motivated to take better care of his teeth in order to get them. So far, we've had good experiences with the dentists he's seen, but we've not encountered the drill yet, etc. I agree with everyone about getting a dentist/orthodontist who at the very least has experience or compassion for special needs patients-may be difficult to find those who "specialize" in special needs in some areas-and generally they say the younger you can start the treatments the less painful it will be as you're guiding the growth rather than correcting it. Good luck!

Jennifer - posted on 02/08/2011

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My son has "Classic Autism" and has had braces for the past 3 years. His crooked teeth was impeeding his speech and ability to eat.
Heres how I got help. I took him to a dentist and expressed my concernts. She agreed with my concerns and sent him to the ortho whom she knew works with special needs children. The ortho agreed with our concerns and made me agree to care for his teeth while he was in the braces. I did so in writing and we have been fine.
Perhaps you could call around and see if you can find an ortho that will treat special needs kids??
Best of luck!

Sheila - posted on 02/03/2011

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Hi Patty,

I don't know how severely ASD has impacted your son, but I do know a boy who (if typical) would probably have had braces. His parents decided against it because of a multitude of sensory related issues that would have made using braces impossible. I also know a child with severe ASD who had a full set of braces and coped quite well (all appointments were completed with sedation). As his mom, you know how much your son can handle. If you feel it is within his ability to cope with braces, then get a second opinion. Good luck....we will probably be facing the same issue with my son, but due to his sensory issues I don't know how he will cope. Thankfully, he is only six right now and time will be our guide. He has a bottom tooth that came in behind all the others....only one and it has moved forward...but there is obviously crowding that will have to be dealt with...UGH!!

Good luck, and get that second opinion! You might even contact a university with an Orthodontist program.

Sheila

Renee - posted on 02/02/2011

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Find a dentist who specializes in children with special needs - that dentist will advise you properly. My son will need braces in a couple years and he will get them. Contact a couple orthodontists too, they can give you advice.

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