Let’s Talk Autism and Pediatric Dentistry
with Dr. Annalee Fencl of Northeast Iowa Pediatric Dentistry
Did you know that certified pediatric dentists have an additional two to three years of training after they complete dental school? One of the most important components of the curriculum and training has to do with treating patients who have special needs.
Whether your child is on the autism spectrum, or is just nervous about their appointment, it is our pleasure to spend the extra time needed to make sure that everyone is comfortable and happy. There are some things we can do at the office, and extra steps you can take at home to make visits to our office a less stressful experience. Much of this information was gathered from the Southwest Autism Research and Resource Center.
The most important thing you can do is to tell us about your child when you call to make your appointment. If they are on the autism spectrum, or have other special needs, there are many things we can do to help reduce the chance of sensory overload including; turning off the music, booking an appointment first thing in the day when there are less patients at the office, using headphones with their favorite song or movie playing, or dimming the lights. We can also book extra time for your child’s visit in case we need to take things slowly.
There are also things we can do together before your appointment to help things run smoothly.
Visit our office before your appointment. You can bring your kiddo in any time! It gives them an opportunity to become comfortable with their surroundings when it’s time for their appointment.
Talk about your child’s upcoming appointment. Let them watch their siblings’ cleanings, or your cleanings.
Show your child photos of our dentist and staff! If they see Dr. Annie regularly on your phone or computer, she will seem like less of a stranger when it’s time for your appointment.
Start visiting Northeast Iowa Pediatric Dentistry in Decorah at an early age! Coming to the dentist by the age of one not only allows Dr. Annie to identify issues with teeth, but also familiarizes them with the process of twice yearly dental visits from an early age.
Although there aren’t any dental issues caused directly by an autism diagnosis, there are certain behaviors associated that may lead to dental problems. Watch out for:
Repetitive biting of the tongue and cheeks
Bruxism, or teeth grinding
Many children are rewarded with sweet treats for good behavior. Be sure to keep an eye on sugar consumption, and consider non-candy rewards.
If your child works with an occupational therapist or other aide, make teeth brushing a part of their routine.
As always, call our office with questions. We want all kids in Iowa to be happy and comfortable in our office, and out!