Specialized Care: Pediatric Dentists & Autism

Did you know April is Autism Awareness Month? That means it’s a great time to spread the awareness of autism and talk the importance of choosing a pediatric dentist who understands your child’s needs.

According to Autism Treatment Network (ATN), autism is defined as a “brain disorder that affects social interaction, communication and often results in repetitive or stereotyped behavior. Autism may refer to a specific diagnosis that is consistent with a number of specific symptoms.” The numbers are quite staggering. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) estimates that one in every 110 children, under the age of eight, have an ASD.

Pediatric Dentist Autism Awareness

A pediatric dentist understands the specific challenges that autism can bring to a dental appointment. Many children are undergoing biomedical treatments that could cause potential issues with some fluorides and the inconsiderable amount of mercury still used for fillings. Pediatric dentists have seen a lot of common dental problems in patients with autism.

Some problems may include:

  • Non-nutritive chewing
  • Erosion
  • Bruxism (teeth grinding)

We can all agree that going to the dentist as a kid caused quite of bit of anxiety. Well, patients with an ASD exhibit higher amounts of anxiety when visiting the dentist. The fear of the unknown comes into play along with the many different sounds they will hear. It can cause a child with autism to have an overwhelming sense of anxiety.

Our main goal is to make your child as comfortable as possible before their dental appointment. A pediatric dentist understands this and will take the time to meet with you and your child in order to learn more about them and develop the best plan for your child.

So, what are the main advantages you as a parent will have by choosing a pediatric dentist, rather than just a general dentist? We are glad you asked! Below, we outline the four main advantages.

4 Advantages of a Pediatric Dentist for Children with Autism

  • Experience –  Pediatric dentists have years of additional training working with kids with special needs, including forms of ASD. You will have the confidence knowing your special needs child will have the best experience possible.
  • Preparation – Pediatric dentists take additional time to plan for your child before the actual appointment. They want to familiarize your child with the entire process and take special note of what your child might exhibit during their visit. The entire staff will be ready to accommodate anything your child will need from check-in, all the way to the exam and check-out itself.
  • Environment – A pediatric dental office is furnished with very calming, peaceful surroundings to help ease your child’s anxiety. Some offices might even offer fun fish aquariums, TVs, and music that has been proven to help calm a child’s sensory needs.
  • Follow Up – Your child will have a sense of familiarity with the staff, dentist, and environment. Kids with autism feel more comfortable with something they have already experienced. Repetition is key, here. The staff will have prior knowledge and experience, so your child’s next visit will be that much more beneficial and less stressful on you and your child.

Pediatric Dentist Healthy Smiles

Things Not To Forget

A lot of people tend to look at kids with autism in a negative way. We must not forget that these children have their own sparkling personalities and possess many great qualities.

Autistic children are very kind, reliable, honest, and can remember very specific information.

Most importantly, pediatric dentists like myself, as well as my staff, have a deep understanding and profound respect for special needs children and will do everything we can to make sure each visit is a success!

A Healthy Mouth is a Happy Mouth!

~Dr. Duffy

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