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Ways to Prepare Children with ASD for A Trip to The Dentist

A trip to the dentist can be overwhelming to children. No matter how friendly the doctor is, the unfamiliar smells and noises are enough to scare any child. The case is more extreme for children with autism, as all these fears are heightened. It would be best to choose a doctor who has experience dealing with children with special needs or those living with disabilities. Avalon Dental  in California is led by a team of expert dentists who can make your child’s trip to the dentist a positive one.

Characteristics of children with ASD

There are several reasons why seeing a dentist is scarier for your child with autism.

A child with ASD:

1.      Is often restless due to how their sensory organs process all kinds of stimuli.

2.      Will display uncontrolled body movements when trying to keep themselves calm.

3.      Does not react well to a change in daily routine as it destabilizes them.

4.      Has trouble communicating their feelings.

5.      Does not understand risks similar to how other children do.

6.      May display signs of obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD).


1.      Home routine

It would be best to practice a good oral routine to prevent your kid from getting cavities, which would necessitate a more uncomfortable procedure. Teach them how to clean their teeth properly. Following such a routine will mean going to the dentist for less stressful procedures such as cleaning instead of root canals or fillings.

2.      Choose the right dentist

Do your research before settling on a dentist. It will help if you get referrals from parents who also have kids with autism.

3.      Plan a visit before the treatment

Even before going for the treatment, it would be best to take your kid for an initial visit to familiarize them with the surroundings and the doctor as well. Show them the tools that will be used for the procedure. You may opt for a video or also choose to go for a procedure at the dentist and let them watch.  

Other ways of preparing your kid include the use of social stories and storybooks on dental visits. During this visit, ask your dentist about their experience treating children with special needs.

They should give you a rundown on the procedure. Make sure to ask the doctor how they plan on treating your child and how they handle terrified kids or ones who become aggressive. Look around to confirm whether the place is as kid-friendly as they might claim it to be.

At the dentist

1.      Involve the dentist

Let your dentist know about your kid’s dislikes to ensure they make the session as pleasant as possible. Also, if your child refuses the procedure, don’t force them; give them time before planning for another visit.

2.      Carry your kid’s favorite items

Bringing your kid’s favorite item helps to calm and distract them during the entire visit. The use of timers, such as alarms and buzzers are useful because they assure your kid that the process has a time limit.

It would help if you took comforters, such as their favorite toys, noise-canceling headphones, and pets with you.

Unfortunately, if all these tips don’t work and the procedure is something that can’t be postponed, you may have to sedate your kid. This option should only be a last resort.

3.      Positive reinforcement

It’s essential to reward your kid for agreeing to the procedure. Positive reinforcement is a well-known strategy used to make activities pleasant for children. It is part of the planned activities training (PAT) booklet meant for parents whose children are on the spectrum.

Finally, even though a trip to the dentist is quite worrying, it’s necessary and beneficial in the long term. Choosing the right dentist, such as those from Avalon Dental, could make the entire process less tense for both you and your child.

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