How To Help Your Child With Autism To Feel At Ease Visiting The Dentist

If you have a child with autism, he or she may dread going to the dentist, and have a difficult time sitting still in the dental chair for the duration of the visit, here are some tips on how to lessen the anxiety your child experiences at the dentist's. 

Speak with Your Child's Dentist

The atmosphere of a dental office, especially while in a dental chair, is what usually makes children with autism experience sensory overload, which then makes them extremely uncomfortable. The bright lights and music along with being surrounded by a dentist and his or her assistants is often too much for a child with autism to process. The child might then become frightened and act out physically by yelling, hitting, or engaging in repetitive movements or self-harm.

If this is the case with your child, talk to your family dentist openly, and together try to come up with solutions or ways to ease the stress brought on to your child during dental visits. It may be that your child needs to become more familiar with your family dentist, so you may want to have a time scheduled for them to talk in a situation where your child isn't having a routine dental check up.

Listen to ideas your dentist has, as he or she may have experience doing checkups and dental procedures on children with autism. Know that children's dentists, at clinics like, are trained to care for children's dental problems, and many children are scared of going to the dentist, so it's not like your dentist is unfamiliar with these types of situations. 

If your current dentist says he or she has no experience dealing with children with autism, and has no ideas how to ease the problem, you may want to look for a new dentist. Find one who understands your concerns and works well with you and your child.

Change the Surroundings

If your dentist isn't able to spare any extra time with your child, suggest modifying the atmosphere of the dental exam room. Changing the bright light bulbs to softer bulbs and playing calming music may help your child feel less nervousness and angst.

Many times when children with autism are in a situation they are unfamiliar with, they will throw tantrums, and dentists sometimes need to restrain or sedate them in order to get the needed dental work done. A pediatric dentist is trained to help children feel at ease when visiting them. Know that dentists know when it is necessary to use sedation on anxious children as well.

Restraints or restraint holds should only be used as a last resort after the dentist has tried many other methods of helping the child stay calm. Restraint holds are actually very stressful for children with autism, and should not be used unless absolutely necessary.

Whatever problems your child has, don't give up easily on trying to make the situation better for everyone involved. Try different approaches to see what your child responds to the most positively.