It can feel very different for your child entering into a dental office. The hum of dental instruments, the sterile scents, and the color of the walls might be noted by your child. To create a welcoming space for their little patients, pediatric dental offices take a lot of care. This purposefully designed environment helps ease dental anxiety and create a feeling of both safety and fun for many children. The smells, sounds, sights, and sensations can be overwhelming for children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) or individual sensory issues. Maintaining a healthy oral health routine for your child can be a struggle. Today, we at Smile Reef would like to offer some tips and recommendations to help kids with sensory issues.

Processing Sensory Integration

To process external stimuli, sensory integration is how a person uses his or her five senses. Daily routines, including oral health, can be impacted for those experiencing sensory processing disorders. You need to differentiate between “sensory seekers” and “sensory avoiders,” as it is very important. To make teeth brushing a soothing experience, sensory seekers gravitate towards specific sensory input. For sensory seekers, dental visits aren’t typically as challenging. As either irritating or painful, sensory avoiders tend to process certain external stimuli, however. Overwhelming and can result in such behaviors as hitting, biting, crying, or moving can be the result when you make trips to the dentist.

How to Prepare Your Child for a Dentist Visit

Schedule a tour of the dental office before his or her appointment if you anticipate that your child might have some dental anxiety. To become a bit more familiarized with the environment, this provides your child with the opportunity. During this tour, feel welcome to speak with the dental team to let them know your concerns and your child’s specific needs. In addition to past dental experiences, let the staff know your child’s particular sensitivities and preferences. To better prepare and set your little one up for success, this information is useful to your dentist and hygienist. Before your child’s appointment, another proactive approach is to read your child a social story or visual chart a week or so. For your child to ask clarifying questions, these stories outline the steps of a dental appointment and allow time.

Time at the Dentist

They are better prepared to make your child have a comfortable visit, once at the dental appointment, ideally, there has been communication with the office team. To allow your child extra time to acclimate, this may include scheduling an extended time slot. If you would like an environment with less stimuli, and private rooms are also an option. With providing accommodations, some pediatric dental offices will take special care. There are many accommodations offer, some may include noise-canceling headphones, sunglasses, sound machines, weighted blankets, turning off overhead lights, and decluttering workspaces.

Brushing Teeth at Home

Tooth brushing might produce a calming effect for sensory seekers. Consider using an electric toothbrush and sing a song while they brush his or her teeth, to ensure your child carefully brushes all teeth. Try brushing for 2-3 minutes. Teeth brushing might be a daily battle for sensory avoiders. The flavor of toothpaste may be overstimulating, consider unflavored toothpaste option, or even simply using water with no toothpaste.

Pediatric Dentistry

For your child’s dental services, contact
Smile Reef
and let us help your little one be more comfortable with professional care.