When you have an autistic child, you know that any new experience can be a real challenge. You never know how your child will accept common things you do every day, much less a doctor or dentist's appointment. Since going to the dentist requires your child to be in close proximity to another person, including having their mouth touched, you want to make sure you choose a dentist that is skilled in your child's very specific needs. Here is how to choose the right dentist for your child.
You want to choose a dentist that specializes in pediatric dentistry. Pediatric dentists have additional schooling that traditional dentists often lack, which they do during their residency prior to becoming a working dentist. A pediatric dentist often takes on studies while they are in a 2-year residency program, including:
- child psychology
- child pharmacology
- child development
If you pick a dentist that works in pediatric dentistry, you have a better chance of choosing a professional who understands your child's tender needs and will be able to work with them in a way that is not imposing or frightening. Before choosing any pediatric dentist, ask about their prior history and experience in working with children who have special needs. Even if they do not have experience directly with autistic patients, they may have experience with children with similar conditions and know how to approach fear and apprehension with ease and patient care.
You want to choose a pediatric dentist who is friendly but not overbearing. Take your child with you to a dentist you are considering and see how the dentist and their staff interact with your child. They should be kind and attentive without pushing your child into talking to them. They should know when to back away and give your child space and when it is OK to approach them. They should also show your child the different tools they use and how they work in the mouth while presenting oral care in a positive way. The rapport any dentist has with your child should be a major factor in whether you choose them or not.
Your autistic child may have a fear of going to the dentist, which can be made much less of an ordeal if you choose a pediatric dentist you can trust. If you look for the right credentials and skill, you should be able to find a pediatric dentist, like Russell Pollina, DDS, who you can trust to care for your child's oral health.