How Autism Can Complicate Your Child's Oral Health Care

Posted on: 30 December 2014

Children with autism experience different symptoms that may affect other aspects of their lives. Here are three examples of such symptoms and what they may mean for your child's dental health:

Sensory Issues

Children with autism may have hypersensitivity (heightened reaction to different stimuli), or hyposensitivity (decreased reaction to different stimuli). If an autistic child is hypersensitive to touch or pain, then he or she may feel uncomfortable using conventional toothbrushes because he or she may feel that they are too painful to brush with.

At the same time, a kid with hyposensitivity to touch or pain isn't safe either because he or she may brush too hard without feeling any discomfort. That would be dangerous because he or she can damage his or her gums unwittingly. Therefore, give your child a soft toothbrush and teach him or her to use gentle movements while brushing his or her teeth.

Resistance to Change

People with autism may be confused when interacting with different people, events or things. They try to manage this confusion by using set routines and rituals. Unfortunately, this may work to your disadvantage if you want to change your kid's dentist because he or she will have difficulty interacting and cooperating with the new dental professional.

The most important thing is to let the dentist know that the child is autistic. That way he or she will know what to do to help your kid cope with the new experience. For example, the dentist may reward the child by letting him or her listen to his or her favorite song if she stays calm for certain duration of treatment.

Difficulties with Communication

When a kid can't verbalize his or her feelings, then it becomes difficult to know when he or she is having any oral problems. For example, your child may find it difficult to tell you about his or her painful oral ulcers, bleeding, or painful gums while brushing.

For this reason, you should take it upon yourself to monitor the child carefully and note any changes in his or her behaviors. For example, if he or she is usually receptive to teeth brushing, but one morning suddenly doesn't want to brush, then he or she may be feeling pain somewhere in his or her mouth.  

These are just a few examples of oral-care difficulties you may have with an autistic child. It is a good idea to look for a dentist experienced in dealing with children with this condition. Don't wait for a dental emergency before looking for a dentist; find a suitable family dentist, such as Canyon Dental, and maintain your child's teeth.