3 Tips For Keeping Your Autistic Child Calmer When Visiting The Dentist

Posted on: 20 October 2015

Considering that even some adults experience dental fear, it likely comes as no surprise that a child suffering from autism may become overwhelmed and anxious during a dental visit. Even when doing everything right in introducing your child to the dentist and easing them into the atmosphere slowly, your child may just dislike being in that dental chair. Try these tips to help keep your autistic child calmer during dental visits.

1. Bundle Your Child in a Blanket Before They Sit Down in the Chair

Similar to how swaddling a baby helps keep it calm and prevent sensory overload, wrapping your child in a snug, yet not too constricting, blanket can help them feel more secure when in the dental chair. When using a favorite blanket of your child's, you can also bring that little piece of home to the dentist that also promotes a more calm feeling.

If your child has a weighted vest that helps keep them calm in other environments, then this can be worn under the blanket. If you do combine the two, make sure the blanket is lightweight to ensure your child does not overheat.

2. Ask Your Dentist About Video Glasses

Some dentists now keep a pair or two of video glasses in their offices that display cartoons or other children's shows on the small screen inside of them. They are often coupled with audio headphones that provide the video soundtrack. Although many children can benefit from this welcome distraction into a "happy video world" while dental work is being performed, children with autism can benefit the most.

If your dentist does not have these glasses or they simply do not work well for your child, then a pair of everyday sunglasses can help shield your child's eyes from the bright lights in the dental office and invoke a calm feeling. Couple the sunglasses with a pair of headphones playing your child's favorite audio story-book to drown out the sounds of drills or general office noise.

3. Minimize Waiting Room Time

If you often arrive to experience a long wait in the office before your child can be seen by the dentist, you may want to wait it out in your vehicle and have the office give your cell phone a ring when they are almost ready for you.

This will give your child a minute to meet-and-greet the staff and remember these new friends, but it won't leave both of you sitting in a possibly chaotic waiting room too long. Waiting rooms are filled with bright lights and there may be other children present who are tearful or acting erratically who can agitate your child and make any other calming method used in the dental chair less successful.

If your autistic child has difficulty staying calm during dental visits, then try one or more of these tips. Every child is unique and some tips work for some and not others, but don't give up on your child's dental care and the health of their teeth. For professional assistance, consider contacting Four Corners Dental Group Fairbanks.