When you’re the parent of a child with special needs, the challenge to keep your child healthy in every way can be exceptional challenge. Oral health is no exception to the rule.
Making a trip to the dentist enjoyable
This might sound impossible to do, but you can make going to the dentist fun! For a child with special needs, new places can be very intimidating, so it’s a good idea to reach out to your pediatric dentist about bringing your child in for a short visit, just to get familiar with the surroundings. This is an important first step to ease any fears they may have. Find a dentist that will take the time to get to know your child and what will make them comfortable for their first visit.
From there, you really can make a game out of it! Ask your dentist if they have any special toys, games, or prizes when a child completes their dental visit. You can even make a bingo-type game out of going to the dentist, with a different task in each box that they can check off, such as getting teeth cleaned, getting teeth flossed, etc. Let them mark the boxes and encourage them to look at going to the dentist as fun. Choose fun activities that won’t over-stimulate or stress your child, but make the trip to the dentist an enjoyable one.
Getting them excited about brushing and dental care
Many parents have found that creating little brushing songs or having their child watch fun children’s brushing videos have helped their child become more comfortable with dental care. You really can make brushing fun through games, songs and videos while helping them understand how important good dental care is.
Work with a pediatric dentist who specializes in patients with special needs
It’s important to find a pediatric dentist who is trained in treating children with special needs and medically complex children. They are trained to dedicate the extra attention and understanding that these patients require, and can provide them with safe and compassionate dental care. Pediatric dentists are the best resource for children’s oral health. Ask your pediatric dentist if they are trained to ensure that a child’s special needs are met and if they offer treatment options to ensure their dental health is the highest quality. Here are a few items to look for:
- Dental offices with comfortable quiet rooms to offer privacy
- An environment that reduces stimulation that may stress your child.
- If necessary, the use of desensitization techniques, sedation, and general anesthesia are available if they need it.
Be sure that the entire staff is aware of your child’s needs and that they’re all familiar with what is needed to make your child’s visit an enjoyable one. Work with a dental staff that fully understand the demands of special-needs care, and who welcome these patients and their families.
Keeping good oral health going at home
After a successful visit to the dentist, teach your child about the importance of good healthy teeth at home. Help them choose a toothbrush they want to use, such as a toothbrush of a favorite character. Understand that they may have difficulties in brushing coordination, so take the time to choose a brush they can easily grip and can brush their teeth effectively. Many parents brush right alongside their child so the child can mirror their actions, and take turns brushing for them. If flossing is too challenging for them, gently floss their teeth while explaining how important healthy gums are to a beautiful smile!
Keeping your child’s teeth healthy and strong is important for their overall health. Use these tips to ensure you’re creating a healthy smile for your child for years to come.