The Dental Examination of the Autistic Child

When an autistic child is taken to the dentist’s office for an examination, hopefully, he will have been seen earlier at a ‘get acquainted visit’. This familiarity with the office will be helpful and smooth the way for the second trip. Again, a social story about the examination should be developed by the parent and shared with the child before the appointment.
The dentist will obtain the child’s medical history, including any current medications, since some drugs interact with certain types of dental sedation or anesthesia. Some important things to remember are:
* The autistic child should already be familiar with the dental office.
* An adequate amount of time must be allowed for the appointment.
* The child should bring a favorite toy, blanket, or book to the appointment.
When performing the initial examination, it is important to be aware that:
* The child may be reluctant or unable to cooperate due to his disability.
* It is often difficult to perform an assessment because the child is resistive and won’t open his mouth.
* Hyperactivity makes it difficult for him to sit in the dental chair.
* The child has visual and auditory hypersensitivity.
* The child dislikes being touched and this may lead to a temper tantrum.
* He may resist opening Oda Extended Health Care Insurance his mouth or may bite.
* He has a poor attention span and is easily distracted.
* The language disorder hinders communication.
* His behavior is impulsive.
* Agitation and anger can lead to combativeness and aggression is common.
* The child is frightened by the sight of the dental instruments, especially the dental drill or examination light.
* The child is easily frightened by noise or a drill in a nearby operatory.
* Most autistic children do not like having cold things in their mouth.
There are some things that the dentist can do to make the examination a bit smoother. Such as:
* Give the child a simple explanation of what is going to be done.
* Avoid sudden moves and don’t crowd the child.
* Approach him in a non-threatening manner.
* Invite the child to sit in the dental chair.
* If the child refuses to sit in the chair, a parent can hold him on their lap.
* Larger children who agree to sit in the dental chair should have their parent hold their hand.
* Use a ‘Show and Tell’ approach to all procedures.
* Explain what you are going to do and show the child all the instruments that you will be using.
* Talk calmly to the child in short, direct phrases and avoid double meanings.
* Tell the child when and where you will be touching them.
* Once a child is seated, begin a cursory exam, using only your fingers.
* Be sure that you do not direct any beams of light into the child’s eyes.
* Use a toothbrush or dental mirror to begin your examination of the mouth.
* Praise the child frequently for positive behavior and ignore bad behavior.
No matter how carefully you plan the autistic child’s visit to the dentist, some children still are unable to tolerate the dental exam and x-rays. Dental sedation will be necessary New Patient Dental Cost in order to complete a dental examination and also, for the child’s own safety. General anesthesia may be required for most autistic children over 8 years of age.

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