Well it has been an interesting couple of months waiting for the Covid-19 pandemic to pass. As things have started returning to normal we have caught up with health checks that were overdue – most significantly the dentist!
As parents of children with sensory sensitivities and anxiety we know that dental visits can be fraught! It is so important to find an understanding dentist who can help your child feel at ease and who can also accommodate to whatever extent possible things like fear of loud noises and needles!
We are very fortunate to have found a lovely, skilled dentist who has helped my daughter to undergo thorough dental checks including some fairly invasive procedures. Here are the things we did which helped us.
We let our daughter know well in advance that her six monthly dental check was coming up.
We asked our daughter whether she would prefer a female or male dentist (this gives your child some control over the event)
We rang around a few different clinics to see if they would be willing to accommodate the needs of our ASD daughter. Friendly, helpful responses were taken as a good sign.
When we made the booking we made sure that the dentist knew our daughter had ASD and that she needs to know what is going to happen so that her anxiety doesn’t escalate. Constant, calm, friendly and reassuring communication is critical.
At the appointment we reminded reception of our daughter’s anxieties and fear of needles and her need to know what exactly is going to happen.
Our dentist took all this information on board and talked our daughter through the check-up and freely and patiently answered our daughter’s incessant questions.
The dentist also let our daughter examine and hold the dental tools so that she could visualise what was going on in her mouth and also to confirm there were no needles.
Veronica was also encouraged to inspect a model/ dummy mouth to help her visualise what the dentist would be doing with her teeth.
There was no time pressure to hurry the appointment and with constant, reassuring communication our daughter remained calm enough for some dental work that didn’t involve needles but was fairly noisy and quite invasive.
The visit was a success and as a result we don’t need to return to complete a partial procedure.
Finally, as our daughter may need braces, we have started to talk about braces in a positive way in anticipation of future dental work.
In summary, what helped was taking some time to find an understanding and communicative dentist and giving our daughter some control over the process. Things could have gone very badly, as they have in the past, so it is really critical that we planned in advance to avoid unwanted surprises that would have pushed our daughter past her anxiety and sensory thresholds.
Until next time, stay well and safe!