If your child has autism, a developmental delay or a disability, you know that brushing, flossing, and dentist visits can be really challenging. Yet, oral hygiene is crucial, especially because studies show special needs children are more likely than typical kids to have cavities and other dental problems.
Cavities, gum disease and oral trauma
In addition, some kids who are orally averse and dont like certain foods and textures or the stimulation of brushing and the taste of toothpaste are also more likely to have dental problems, Slayton said.
If your child has special needs, here are 10 ways you can keep his or her teeth healthy at home and make dentist visits stress-free.
1. Make brushing easy
For kids who need help brushing, put the toothbrush in a bicycle handle so they have something big, thick and spongy to hold onto, Goldberg said.
https://www.google.com/maps/d/embed?mid=zBWupH5rPm78.kX75CdW5b2JQBrushing should always be supervised, and if floss doesnt work, use a water pick. If your child bites, place gauze on the back teeth and then brush.
2. Keep it fun
The earlier brushing becomes a pleasant experience, the easier it will be to make it a habit, according to Fern Ingber, president and CEO of the National Children’s Oral Health Foundation: America’s ToothFairy. Try to brush when your kid is most cooperative, and distract him or her with music or something pleasant.
3. Start early
Your childs first visit to the dentist should be a positive experience, so be sure to get there by age 1 or when the first teeth erupt.
4. Find a good dentist
Most pediatric dentists work with special needs kids, but its important to find one who is patient, will take time to explain everything to your child, and work with you to make sure your child is comfortable. If you get a compassionate doctor, it will be a great experience, Goldberg said.
5. Call ahead
When you make a dentists appointment, provide the staff with information about your child and his specific needs. A heads-up can allow them to set up the office and make sure extra staff will be on hand to help. If your child cannot sit in the chair, the dentist can also find an alternative.
6. Do paperwork beforehand
Ask the office to send all of the paperwork ahead of time, and bring a copy of your insurance card with you so you can save time and give your child the attention he or she needs.
7. Bring a comfort object
Kids dont know what to expect at the first dentist visit, so bring a favorite blanket, toy, or toothbrush.
https://secure.assets.tumblr.com/post.jsso theyre not afraid.
Talk to your child about what to expect at the dentist from the chair that tilts back to the tools the dentist uses. You can also prepare by putting your child in your lap and brushing his or her teeth. They get used to the feeling of someone else touching their mouths and hovering over their heads. Its a scary feeling unless youre used to it, Goldberg said.
9. Use the right words
Ask the dentist beforehand what words and phrases you should teach your child so if the dentist says, open your mouth, he or she know what to do.
10. Wipes, gels, and rinses
According to a study in the Journal of Dental Research, young children who used xylitol wipes were significantly less likely to develop cavities. If you have to administer your childs medication at night and youve already brushed his or her teeth, wipe the mouth clean with xylitol wipes, Slayton suggests. Also, ask the dentist about an antimicrobial rinse or custom trays with peroxide gel, two methods that can help prevent cavities and gum disease too.
Julie Revelant is a health journalist and a consultant who provides content marketing and copywriting services for the healthcare industry. She’s also a mom of two. Learn more about Julie at revelantwriting.com.