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This week’s blog looks at the dentist and has been written by Dr Greg Grillo, who has more than two decades of expertise in the dentist industry. His passion for dental marketing and knowledge of dental software, makes him an invaluable asset to the Emergency Dentists USA team.

Going to the dentist for the first time can be an overwhelming experience for a child. There are a lot of new sensory elements like bright lights, loud noises, and strange tastes and smells. For autistic children, this experience can be too overwhelming making them hesitant to be at the dentist’s. I have been practicing family dentistry for 17 years and know how important it is for your child to have a positive experience at the dentist’s. That’s why I have come up with a list of what you can expect when taking your child to the dentist, and how to prepare to make it a positive experience.

1. Experiencing nerves

Nerves are very common amongst children and your child is likely to have some before their first dental visit. Thankfully there are many ways to work to overcome these nerves your child may be feeling and avoid other issues at the dentist.

Practicing at home is one great way to begin working through any nervous feelings. Try role-playing dental visits at home and using visuals such as telling stories or watching videos about dental check ups. There are many ways to work through your child’s possible fear of the dentist so find what works best. Do what you can to make going to the dentist a positive experience for your child. Your dentist will be right there beside you helping you along the way.

2. New people

Another thing you can expect when going to the dentist is meeting new people. You will quickly be getting to know the office and staff members at your dental clinic. Going to the dentist gives you and your child an amazing opportunity to establish a positive relationship between you and the staff at your dentist’s. They will be working closely with your child so having this relationship is important.

As you meet new people, your child may still be feeling weary. If this is so, ask your dentist to set up a familiarization appointment ahead of time for your child to visit the dentist’s. This will give them the chance to meet the office and staff before any work is done. They can also see what the office looks like which will make it more familiar when your child comes back for their appointment.

The staff members at your dentist’s are going to work to make your child’s experience as comfortable as they can. Ask any questions you may have regarding your child’s appointment and let them know ahead of time any special accommodations you’d like to be made. These can include things such as specific toothpaste flavours or reducing waiting room time. Think of you, your child, and your dentist as a team. Teamwork is the best way for your child to have the most positive experience at the dentist.

3. Future dental visits

Regular dental visits are extremely important to your child’s overall health and well-being so it will be important to prepare for future visits. It’s recommended that your child visits a dentist once every six months. Note that your child’s first visit is going to be the most difficult, but you will begin to understand your child’s sensory difficulties as you visit the dentist more. Understanding what upsets your child will help you figure out how to improve their dental experience. At first, it will be trial and error but enjoy the learning process.

One thing that many patients with special needs benefit from is working with the same staff each time. As mentioned before, establishing that relationship with office and staff members will be beneficial in the long run. Your child will be more willing to visit the dentist if they can be around people they are familiar with. It will help ease any anxieties your child may have previously had and make for great and positive dental visits.

It’s very common that people experience nerves when they visit the dentist. However, autistic children often have more difficulties when it comes to visiting the dentist as sensory issues may make them feel uncomfortable. Luckily, if you can know what to expect, you can work to prepare for your child’s appointment and face their fears. Be sure to keep conversations around the dentist positive and encouraging. There are many great family resources out there to help you and your child have the most positive experience.