Dentistry for Kids with Autism

Dark-haired boy with autism smiles after receiving dental care at Sunshine Pediatric Dentistry

Many kids don’t enjoy going to the dentist and experience some level of anxiety. However, for kids with autism, visiting the dentist can be a very scary experience. The sensory overload of different smells, noises, tools, and new people is overwhelming. But visiting the dentist is essential to your child’s oral health; so how can you make visiting the dentist easier for a child with autism?

1. Choose the Right Dentist

Not all dentists are comfortable treating kids with autism and other special needs. At Sunshine Pediatric Dentistry, we have experience working with kids who have special needs. Just let us know and we can come up with a plan together that ensures your child is as comfortable as possible. Our office is also stocked with kid-friendly amenities, including books, toys, blankets, TVs, beverages, and snacks.

2. Consider Dental Sedation

If your child experiences severe anxiety during a visit, it may be best to consider a form of sedation. We follow industry standards from the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry, the American Dental Association, and the American Academy of Pediatrics. Your child will be closely monitored the whole time and we’ll provide instructions for you on what to do before and after.

We offer three types of sedation: nitrous oxide (laughing gas), oral conscious sedation, and general anesthesia:

  • With laughing gas, we place a mask over your child’s nose so they can inhale the sweet-smelling gas. Very quickly, their limbs will start to feel heavier and they will feel calmer. The effects of nitrous oxide also wear off immediately after their treatment.
  • If your child experiences more severe fear, oral conscious sedation is preferable over laughing gas. Your child will take a pill before their appointment and remain relaxed, but conscious, during their treatment.
  • We’ll use general anesthesia, which puts your child into a deep sleep, for procedures like oral surgery. Our team is trained to monitor and adjust to changes in your child’s breathing and heart rate so they remain safe while sleeping.

3. Help Your Child Feel Prepared

Before you come in, let your child know what they can expect from their first visit with us. Show them pictures of the office and our team so there are as few surprises as possible. When you’re both in the office, giving your child positive reinforcement right away can also help ease their anxiety. Bring along their favorite comfort item, such as a stuffed animal, blanket, or squeeze ball. If you know your child is sensitive to lights and sound, have sunglasses and headphones handy. Additionally, many kids dread the dentist less when they know something fun is planned for after their visit, like a special trip to the park, a movie, Grandma’s house, or their favorite restaurant.

Compassionate Care at Sunshine Pediatric Dentistry

Our experienced team understands that visiting the dentist can be very overwhelming for kids with autism. We want to ensure kids are able to get the gentle dental care they need so we are able to make accommodations for your child’s unique needs. Contact us today with any questions about our services or to schedule your child’s first appointment!

Do you need dental care for your child with autism?