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Dental Visits

Taking your special needs child to the dentist

  • Talk to your dentist about your child’s needs and any special accommodations they might be able to provide.

  • Schedule an appointment at the beginning or towards the end of the day, so the dentist will not feel rushed to get to another appointment.  Avoid making an appointment for a time when your child will be tired.

  • Talk to your dentist about making a brief visit before the first dental appointment so your child can meet the dentist, as well as the staff, to gain a level of comfort with them.

  • If necessary, set up multiple visits to allow your child to become more comfortable with the dentist, staff, and environment.

  • During the appointment, sit with your child and use various coping techniques to make sure your child feels as comfortable as possible.

Routine is important. Create and maintain a routine.

As with taking care of your child’s teeth at home, having a routine with the dentist is an important way to help your child get comfortable with receiving professional oral health care.

  • If possible, use the same dentist and dental hygienist at all dental visits.

  • Use coping techniques such as hand holding, singing a song, or holding a favorite toy to help your child through the visit. Use similar coping techniques during all visits to help build your child’s comfort level.  

  • If your child prefers to wear earmuffs or sunglasses during the appointment, wear them during all appointments.

Using a social story

A “social story” is a series of pictures that shows the people and the steps that take place during an activity, such as a visit to the dentist.

  • Create a social story about going to the dentist, and use the pictures to show your child what the dentist’s office looks like.

  • Review the pictures to help prepare your child for what to expect at an upcoming visit to the dental office.