If you have a child with special needs, dental hygiene is just one in a long list of everyday activities that might be a bit more difficult for your family. Many health conditions exist which make a child unresponsive or uncooperative, so maintaining good oral health can sometimes seem like quite the chore. In addition, many developmental conditions can affect the growth, placement and health of the teeth and gums. However, there are steps you can take to make brushing, flossing, and visiting the dentist easier on you and your child.
1.Attach the toothbrush handle to a larger, spongy object like a bicycle grip or hairbrush handle if your child lacks the dexterity to maneuver a toothbrush.
2.Make brushing time a fun experience. If a child is resistant to their hygiene routine, try playing music, pretending to ‘roar’ like lions or tigers when opening wide to brush, or hanging interesting pictures in the bathroom to distract and amuse them.
3.An understanding and trustworthy dentist is vital to helping kids develop healthy teeth. The Special Care Dentistry Association assists health care professionals in addressing and meeting the needs of special needs kids. There are many questions you’ll want to ask a dentist before having your child treated there. Find out if they’ve treated other patients with your child’s particular condition, and whether your child will be able to see the same dentist at every visit. Seeing a familiar face can be a big help in dealing with what has the potential to be a scary occasion.
Once you’ve found a dentist you’re comfortable with, there are a few things to keep in mind that should help your visit go as smoothly as possible.
1. The earlier you begin exposure to the dentist, the easier it’s likely to be. Dentists recommend that children have their first dental appointment within six months of the first tooth appearing. When children have health issues that affect the shape of the jaw or the way teeth grow, begin these visits as early as possible to ensure everything is progressing normally.
2. For each appointment, ask the office to send over the paperwork so you can finish it ahead of time and hopefully shorten the waiting period.
3. Ask your dentist about key phrases he or she will be using during the visit and teach them to your child ahead of time. Have them practice opening their mouth wide and let them know what will happen during the visit. If possible, show your child the examination room and let them sit in the chair to get used to it before the actual checkup.
4. A comfort object like a small blanket or favorite toy can help make a new experience a little less scary. Ask the dentist if it’s okay for the child to keep the object in the chair with them while they are being examined.
5. If there’s no way to keep your child calm during dental checkups or procedures, look for an office that has experience with sedation dentistry for special needs kids. Sedation dentistry uses sedatives, or calming drugs, to keep patients relaxed and cooperative during a dental procedure.