Children with autism find it challenging to accomplish the daily task we do without a second thought, and dental care is one of them. It may be hard for them to maintain a healthy and effective dental care routine, and they are susceptible to tooth decay, gum disease, bad breath, and dental injuries. These children have sensitivities that make even visiting the dentist a challenge.
Luckily, you can take some measures to make dental care easier for your autistic child. You can use autism-friendly dental products like livfresh dental gel, implement behavioral strategies and even seek advice from a dentist with specialized knowledge in treating children with autism.
Here are some dental care tips for autistic kids.
Customize the brushing routine to your child’s sensory processing style
Some autistic children let their caregivers brush their teeth without a problem, but others are usually combative or meltdown at the sight of a toothbrush. Consequently, brushing teeth for an autistic child may be a hassle for a parent or caregiver, and they may shorten or skip brushing sessions.
The solution is to tailor your child’s teeth brushing routine to their sensory processing style. When it comes to autism, there are sensory seekers and sensory avoiders. While sensory seekers underreact to stimuli, sensory avoiders avoid sensory input because they find it overwhelming.
If your autistic child is a sensory seeker, you can try watching a video about dental hygiene as you perform the task. On the other hand, you can use a soft brush or flavorful toothpaste for a sensory avoider. You should seek professional help if your autistic child is completely sensitive to touch that they will not allow a toothbrush near their teeth.
Use special toothbrushes
Regular toothbrushes can be very harsh for kids with autism and may hurt their gums during brushing times. But you can switch to special toothbrushes like those with extremely soft bristles or silicone bristles to ensure a gentle experience for them. You can also change a manual toothbrush for an electric rotating or vibrating toothbrush to stimulate their senses as they brush.
Use visual supports
Surprisingly autistic children, especially those who struggle with verbal communication, can respond very well to visual support. According to research, using visual supports can reduce behaviors that stem from being unable to communicate.
You can create a visual schedule in the form of pictures and videos for your autistic child to represent the idea of dental care. For instance, you can show them videos of children brushing or include a photo of them brushing their teeth after a picture of them eating to signal that you would like them to brush after the meal.
Use flavored floss.
You can try using differently flavored floss on your autistic child to see which one they love. Many of them do not like mint flavor, which may be why they don’t want you to touch their teeth. A water flosser might be an ideal choice.
Engage a special needs dentist
If things get challenging, it is advisable to consult a dentist with experience handling autistic kids. they can find ways to improve your child’s compliance with dental care.