Taking an autistic child to the dentist.

Deanna - posted on 02/18/2010 ( 26 moms have responded )

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I want to make a dentist appointment for my 2 year old son, who is autistic. Just looking for a little advice. Do you think it is necassary to tell the dentist beforehand that you child is autistic?

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Renee - posted on 02/21/2010

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Not to scare you but my son kicked about 4 dentists who all said "oh I deal with children with autism all the time" uh yeah, he kicked 'em all hard when they tried to examine his teeth. So finally the "special needs" dentist we found said, okay I can tell you right now I cannot treat your son, he needs sedation which I do not do. So he referered us to a sedation dentist. They had a pediatric anestisiolost on staff and once a month they do a whole day of special needs kids. My son went in (with me in the room) they calmly sedated him, did all the work and now he is fine for the next year. No problem. I think it's better for them not to have a bad experience and to use sedation --- my personal opinion and experience. Whatever the child is capable of is the way I would go.

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Amy - posted on 09/17/2012

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Yes! You definitely have to tell the dentist in order for them to be extra careful and sensitive to the childs need. I've been working with children and adults with autistic, autism, down syndrome etc. for many years and when patients inform us that their child has one of those, we take extra care of them. My office is actually having a promotion right now for X-rays, oral consultation and evaluation if anyone wants to stop by. our office number is 6262888008 and we are located 1404 s san gabriel, san gabriel ca 91776. or call us just to ask questions.

Lynne - posted on 07/23/2011

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Yes! And prepare your child as much as possible beforehand. Take him for a tour. Take pictures of the exam room, waiting room etc. If possible use a pediatric dentist. My daughter is autistic and she screamed every time she even saw the exam chairs. I had to sit on the end of the exam chair and hold her feet and hands so they could count her teeth. I made a book for her with pictures of the office and the dentist and hygenist. It took two years but she finally got over it. She also was born with a cleft lip/cleft palate so I knew she was going to be in for extensive dental work. I was so glad when she got over her fear. I was not looking forward to all the prep work they have to do before they do the palate bone graft.

Sonia - posted on 02/25/2010

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my son has a pediatric dentist who specializes in kids with disabilities, it would be in your best interest and your son's to find someone who has dealt with these situations numerous times

Johnna - posted on 02/25/2010

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I did many of the things already posted, but here are a few other tips: We went to the library and got a bunch of stories about going to the dentist and read them every day for two weeks. I also searched hi and lo for some dentist toys....very hard to find. I did find a really cute set from Callico Critters with a realistic dentist chair, light, tools a beaver patient and a beaver dentist, etc. Beware tho.... your guy is little and some of the pieces are too small for a little guy. My son was almost 4 (yes, I postponed it as long as I could with the blessing of my pedi). Also if you are using a picture schedule with your son, we brought our travel schedule with us with PECs of what would happen (also brought the callicos). All this being said,my son did not make it thru the whole exam. but he had his first exposure and we hope that with time they will be able to get further. And it was comforting to know that my friends "typical" 3.5yr old son didnt make it thru his whole exam either! Good Luck!!

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I am getting ready to do the same! I already talked with our family dentist, and he's going to do a quick "look and see" of the teeth I am concerned about. He already has a pediatric dentist (who does sedation) to refer us to. As much as I hate to sedate him, it will be the only way.
I did find this a few days ago. I plan on telling my son about the dentist before our appointment, hopefully this will be of use beforehand to someone else.
It's a free app for the iPhone, on taking kids to different places, ie haircuts, doctor, dentist, etc.
http://www.modelmekids.com/community-soc...

Danielle - posted on 02/25/2010

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hi there, i'm not sure which country you are in, but if your in the u.k we have a specialist dental team-the community dental team, (on the NHS) and all you need to do is have your GP or Specialist health visitor referr your son, and he will be placed on a brief waiting list, before seeing (in our case) an amazingly well trained specialist who knows all about Autism (and other disorders/disabilities ) and makes the whole process of going to the dentist so gradual, that they are more than happy just for your son to walk in the room at first and then go straight home if he wants. they really don't push or rush your child or you, and they build everyones confidence at the same time! i wish my sons dentist was my dentist!! if you are not in the u.k definately forwarn the dentist, for his/her sake as well as your sons, or else they will not have a clue what they need to do to accomodate your childs needs. and definately do get your son into the routine of going whilst he is so young, as the older he gets the more complicated and difficult it will getxxx

Amanda - posted on 02/24/2010

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my son is four with autism,hated me going near his teeth until around a year ago,will let me brush them now,haven't even contemplated going dentist yet but i guess it depends if your boy has sensory issues,i know there are some disabled dentists in some areas if you were really concerned,hope this helps xx

Lisa - posted on 02/24/2010

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Just to update everyone that is reading.. my son will be 17 years old in April.. he has perfectly gorgeous adult teeth.. the baby teeth were the issue. He continues to see his dentist every 6 months faithfully, they are both on a first name basis. He has routine cleanings, had sealant put on his teeth and two minor fillings without a bit of coaxing from his dentist. My son just closes his eyes and trusts him because of the time the dentist took to get to know my son..

Lisa - posted on 02/24/2010

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My son had a dental issue when he was 18 months. A top front tooth turned color. A regular dentist peeked at him on the front porch of his office without touching him and told me that his tooth will just fall out and to leave it alone. Months later the tooth broke. From the advice of the dentist, I just left it alone. At the age of 2 it was gnarled. I took him to a special pediatric dentist, this was years before his diagnosis of Aspergers. The dentist was more focused on my son’s actions in the chair or should I say, on top of the chair (he was climbing it) then the dental needs. He told me that he was going to put him to sleep in the hospital and figure it out. 2 ½ hours out, 4 root canals, 4 silver crowns and an extraction later, my son was frightened to death of the dentist! Being traumatized myself, I didn’t take him to the dentist at all until he was in 5th grade!! At this point, the Aspergers was clearly diagnosed. I searched everywhere for a special pediatric dentist that specialized in special needs. I spoke with the office first and they gave me the last appointment prior to his lunch break so he could devote more time. He spoke with my son straight through his lunch but didn’t touch him. He showed him all the tools and explained what they did. The next scheduled appointment took a long time as well.. but the dentist was able to talk my son into letting him look at his teeth. The moral of my story is.. find a dentist that specializes in special needs and do not ever wait on dental care! If your son isn’t able to develop a trust with the dentist that you select, continue to look.. Patience and kindness rank up there with the professionals understanding of our little ones..

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Depending on the dentist, my daughter loves it because the staff, understands her needs, very hard to find, so it will take a bit of looking, but now it is no problem!

Heidi - posted on 02/23/2010

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We go to a pediatric dentist who is accustomed to dealing with children with special needs. We never do any dental work without sedation. My son will stay calm long enough for them to look at his teeth (and luckily we havent had any cavities yet) but for x-rays, cleaning, fluoride, etc we dont even try without sedation. I hate the fact we have to do that but its too dangerous for my son, the dentist, and myself without it, as he will get violent.

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There are actually dentist out there that work with autistic and special needs children and adults. You might want to contact someone like MHMR or something like that in your area and see who the refer you to. Both my kids love their dentist, he shows them the tools, turns them on to let the kids see them and touch them first. Both my kids had major surgery and they put them out completely instead of using shots or letting them hear the sounds.

Kristin - posted on 02/23/2010

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I told our dentist ahead of time and it made all the difference in the world. They were way more patient with him than a friend of mine who didn't tell them. They also made his appointment early so they could take as much time as they needed with him and adjusted the treatment method based on his oral sensory issues. Also, you can ask the person that works there if they have experience working with children who have special needs and ask if they have experience with children who are autistic. They can't give you specifics but can tell you the doctors level of comfort with that, if they are open about that stuff. Ours was great - we were very fortunate. I always tell people he is on the spectrum, dentist, haircut place, or anywhere where I think he may have a meltdown.

Sheila - posted on 02/23/2010

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I did. I also took him with me to see the dental chair, meet the hygenist, say hi to Dr. B (my wonderful dentist) My son is almost six now, and we started with just counting teeth and saying hello as he sat in my lap. Last time we went, he allowed cleaning without a tear. Our dentist will refer him to another dentist should he require "work." This other dentist has hospital priviledges and will do any work required under mild sedation.

Good Luck!

sheila

Elizabeth - posted on 02/22/2010

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I would definitely let the dentist know before hand. I would also find a pediatric dentist who specializes in working with children with special needs. We have finally found a pediatric dentist that my son really likes. They take the extra time and care when they have a child with special needs. Makes it a better experience all the way around.

Keri - posted on 02/22/2010

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My son is 4 and has had 2 successful trips to dentist now. We see a pediatric dentist who specializes in special needs children. It is the small things they do that make the difference between meltdown and success. He is allowed to stand to have his teeth cleaned and exam done. (The reclining chair really freaks him out). They also stop before while he is still ok. He hasn't been able to do xrays or flouride yet but can have teeth cleaned and eval done. Small steps seems to have helped us.

Ann - posted on 02/22/2010

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Find a dentist that has autistic patients already. Our dentist has what they call "Happy visits". Your child will meet the dentist, get to play with the tools, sit in the chair, etc... Our dentist said if we have to have 5-10 vists then that is what we do. Your child has to be comfortable with the dentist and the office before he will allow any work to be done. The first time I took my son was when he was 5 yrs old. I was stressed and worried and he did amazing! He had one cavity filled with a laser and it was so easy! Next time might not go so great but he is comfortable with the dentist and the office now so he might do just fine! Just stay positive and do your research.

Susan - posted on 02/22/2010

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Yes you should tell them visit the dentist 1st to find one that best fits your childs needs. talk to an OT Occupational therapist. about the best way to apporoch the dental experience for your child. You want this to be pleasent most kids with autism have oral motor and extreme sensory integration issues as well. My daughter used to freak out and still does but we have found a great dentist and someone that takes time with her talks her through it, and is very gentle. I do all the sensory prepare ahead. visit this web site http://www.sensory-processing-disorder.c... for some helpful hints on taking your child to the dentist and other health care professionals. My child has braces on her teeth and is doing very well with it. We have had a very professional and understanding dental and orthodontist. Best of luck you have time to find someone the best time to take him is by age 3, this way you can start young find someone understanding.

Rachel - posted on 02/21/2010

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I would definitely let the dentist know, and I would ask your pediatritian if they could recommend dentist who specializes in children with special needs. This is helpful in case their is ever any need for anything more than routine care - like cavities - some may use sedation right in the office. Other dentist you are looking at a hospital procedure.

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Yes it's absolutely going to make his experience less traumatic if the dentist knows. A pediatric dentist is a good idea, but make sure to find one that will let you go back with your child. Some children do better if they are on the parent's lap (at 2), and it really helps to go for a practice visit to let the child become comfortable in the office- sitting in the chair without anyone touching them, getting a treat afterwards helps too. I always planned visits to the dentist with something my child liked to do afterwards like going to the park. Then I could use it as a motivator to cooperate (this may or may not work for your child).

Carrie - posted on 02/20/2010

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Definitely tell them ahead of time. You may want to search for someone in your area that specializes with children with special needs. Hope this helps.

Gretchen - posted on 02/20/2010

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I would say yes. My son was not diagnosed at the time, but when he first went to the dentist, it was their policy to take the children back by themselves. My son had a hysterical meltdown, and he was not able to finish his visit. Needless to say, we found another dentist, but I think that could have been prevented if I could have let them know in advance.

Amber - posted on 02/19/2010

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My Dentist recommended that the child come and watch the parent a few times to make it easier when it is his turn.

Veros - posted on 02/18/2010

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Typically when I'm trying a new experince with my son I "front load" the experience which means I go to the site first and get a tour with him of the office, school, etc. At the dentist I toured the site first with him, let him sit in the chair, met the dentist, showed him the x-ray machine. In the weeks leading up to the visits I talked about going to dentist and about check up and I play dentist with him. I have him open his mouth and I pretend to check his teeth, just like a dentist. I do recommend letting the office know about the Autism and any other sensory issues as well. I found that a pediatric dentist worked better than a regular dentist. Maybe one that would allow him to watch TV as he gets work done would help. I hope this works.

Mary - posted on 02/18/2010

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I would tell them ahead of time. If he is sensitive to noise, light, etc. they can prepare a room that will work well for him. I would also take him to a pediatric dentist as I have found they are more sensitive to children anyway. Many kids with ASDs are afraid of the dentist and need extra patience.

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