Recovering from Neck Pain

Providing Dental Care To Patients With Autism: What To Expect

by Janet Burns

As a parent of an autistic child, you face many unique challenges that other parents may not. One of those challenges is trying to get your child to sit still and cooperate for a dental exam and/or cavity fillings. Some children with autism are fine with this procedure, while others are more challenging. You may even find that children on the spectrum who typically sit well for a dental exam will not sit well for dental fillings, and vice versa. If you are concerned about how your child will react and about getting your child routine dental care, it is time to see a dentist who has experience with autistic and special needs kids. Here is what you can expect at the first three appointments.

The First Appointment

This is all new to both you and your child. Since a child with autism prefers routine and familiarity, do not expect too much from the first appointment. However, your child may surprise you. Dentists who are familiar with the autism spectrum often have a private exam room where nothing but an exam chair, a desk and a computer are located. This is the dentist's way of providing a quiet, low-key area where your child can feel less agitated and less stimulated. Sometimes these dentists also install natural lighting, since there seems to be some evidence that fluorescent lighting makes a child with autism distracted or uncomfortable.

If your child is calm and willing to sit in the exam chair in this separate room, then the dentist will perform a basic exam. He or she will try to open your child's mouth through gentle coaxing. Then the dentist will count your child's teeth and look for any abnormalities or possible cavities. Finally, the hygienist will try to take full x-rays will be taken at this appointment, otherwise they will try to get x-rays at the second appointment.

The Second Appointment

If the hygienist could not get x-rays last time, he or she will try again at this appointment. If it has been verified that your child has a few cavities to fill, the dentist will discuss scheduling oral surgery time to sedate your child and fix the cavities while your child is sedated.

The Third Appointment

This is actually the appointment you have at the hospital or in the surgical room in the dentist's office. Your child may be offered something like applesauce or pudding with a mild sedative stirred into it to help them relax. Then he or she will be wheeled into the operating room where IV sedation is given. Depending on the number of cavities, your child could be out in two hours or less. From there, you carry him or her home to sleep off the sedatives.

Contact a professional dentist, like Dr R Wilczek family dentist, for more information on how your child can be accommodated at the dentists office.