Preparing with Your Special Needs Child to Visit the Dentist

By Dr. Greg Grillo

As a dentist that works with special needs patients, I have personally seen how difficult a dental visit can be. However, with experience and cooperation with parents and guardians, I have also discovered how important preparation is for a special needs child to have the best dental visit possible.

When speaking to parents about their loved ones, there are some common elements that contribute to success at the dentist’s office. Good oral health and hygiene are essential to the well-being and success of any child and will pay dividends at the dentist office. I also suggest planned activity training - it has shown to be an effective means to prepare for an activity and will encourage good behavior. Another key is to find the right dentist; one that is compassionate and competent, one that has experience working with children with Autism or Down Syndrome.

What Is the Temperament of the Dentist?

dentistFinding the right temperament in the dentist is because you seek a practitioner who specializes in working wiht special needs children. Certified dentists have spent an additional 3 years learning how to properly care for your loved one. If you are unable to find a special needs dentist, ask your friends, ask your dentist, call around. Find someone that is receptive to treating your loved one. Finding someone that understands your child’s needs, establishes a good rapport, and is patient and receptive will make the experience more beneficial as well as more pleasant. Whether you find a special needs dentist or not, you are going to want to communicate with your dentist what needs your loved one has, and what to expect.

Applying “planned activity training” (PAT) to prepare your child for the hardship of the dentist will be helpful. Incorporating this approach broadly well before seeing the dentist will make the dentist seem less startling and uncomfortable. PAT is a way to communicate with your loved one what exactly they can expect. I encourage you to do research on this technique.

Practice Through Play at Home

Start by preparing the child mentally and physically. For especially difficult settings make sure they are well-fed, have had adequate sleep and have everything they need. Bring something pleasant to occupy them during downtime. Explain the activity and the rules of behavior for that activity. Without being deceitful, try to exclude or diminish the unsavory elements of going to the dentist. If the opportunity is there, perhaps allow your loved one to see you having your teeth cleaned so they will be more comfortable and understand that it is not a punishment, but something even you must do. Explain rewards they may expect for good behavior and try to give choices whenever possible to allow the child to have some degree of investment in the activity. For the dental visit, highlight the fact they could choose the flavor of their toothpaste perhaps. Applying this approach seems to make the experience more pleasant for everyone.

Establish Routines

If your loved one doesn’t already, establish routine brushing, flossing and the use of mouthwash as well. If your loved one has issues with these, do not force them, rather, consider teaching by example or incorporating positive reinforcement. Make dental hygiene a fun bonding experience. Make sure to comment on the benefits of brushing to protect their beautiful smile. Let them choose a flavor of mouthwash, toothpaste, and floss. Maybe play a favorite song of theirs to make it a more joyful activity and to cue when they have brushed long enough (a song around 2 mins). Make a fun activity out of oral hygiene and make that the routine. If they do not engage themselves, make yourself a visible and continual example and they are likely to join in. Once they begin to practice a good routine make sure you continue to reinforce their adherence to that routine, keep it fun and never diminish the accomplishment of maintaining a healthy mouth.

A happy child is a healthy child. Do not neglect or diminish the importance that oral health plays in the overall happiness of your loved one. With a proactive attitude, some effort and the right dentist, your child can benefit from a dental visit without a struggle.

For further information regarding dentistry for autistic patients, check out
https://www.emergencydentistsusa.com/autism-and-dental-care/

For downs syndrome,
https://www.emergencydentistsusa.com/down-syndrome-and-dental-care/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/8875813

https://www.oumedicine.com/docs/ad-pediatrics-workfiles/planned-activities-training-parent-handout-booklet.pdf?sfvrsn=2

https://adayinourshoes.com/find-special-needs-dentist-ask/

https://www.innovativepediatricdentistry.com/dental-tips-for-parents-of-special-needs-children/

http://deltadentalazblog.com/dentistry-for-special-needs-7-tips-for-making-dentist-visits-less-stressful/

 

Dr. Greg spent graduated with honors from the School of Dentistry at the University of Washington. He joined the United States Navy and served for 4 years and then returned home to join the practice of his farther Dr. Jerry Grillo. Dr Greg enjoys working as a dentist, writing about dentistry and spending quality time with his family.

5 Key Habits of Successful People

Everyone has habits; both good and bad. These are behaviors undertaken every day automatically. Successful people intentionally create success habits that enable them to achieve the life they desire. They are prepared to invest their time in creating these habits as they understand that they will help them to reach their goal.

Creating new habits has to be an intentional process and generally takes 21 days for the new behavior to be assimilated into daily life and routines.

Successful people tend to adopt the same habits. These success habits become part of their daily lives and help to keep them successful as they understand that the journey to success is not final. It continually moves as they need to keep growing in terms of achievement.

An entrepreneur may set his goal of achieving success at selling services worth 5 figures in one year. However, once that goal has been achieved he will re-evaluate his definition of success and set another goal for the following year.

Generally, the following five habits will be key to gaining success and maintaining it.

1. Positive Mind-set: having a positive mind-set can be learned. It will require mental programming (changing your thinking patterns). There are various ways to create a positive mind-set including using positive affirmations, visualization, self-hypnosis or coaching.

One of the most crucial factors in succeeding in anything is to believe that you can achieve it.

2. Exercise and Healthy Eating: taking care of the body through exercise, diet and good sleep routines is another crucial component. Research has shown a strong mind-body connection. By taking care of your body you are preventing ill-health from causing you problems on your way to achieving your goal.

3. Prioritization: successful people plan and they prioritize. They decide what the essential elements or tasks are each day and act on those first. By knowing which tasks will help them achieve their goal they are continuing to act on the plan for success that they created.

Delegating inessential tasks ensures that they get completed but do not detract from your ultimate goal.

4. Goal Setting: identifying the end goal and creating a plan is another essential habit. Without a goal you won't know what you are aiming for. All successful people know what success means to them and plan how to achieve it.

5. Life-long Learning: whether it is reading, taking a course or listening to audio recordings, successful people understand that knowledge is power and a crucial aspect of helping them to achieve their goals. They stay up-to-date on relevant industry information, new trends and innovations. This is built into their daily routine.

These are just five of the key habits of successful people. By adopting these success habits into your daily routine you will be creating a stronger, healthier and more successful version of you.

Coach Parents to Raise Emotionally Healthy Children

Emotionally healthy children do better in school, find more success as adults, and lead happier lives. They can be happy and fulfilled as they grow up.

Follow these strategies to increase your children’s emotional wellbeing:

1. Be open about your feelings. The world isn’t always positive, and you may have struggled. It helps your children understand your feelings if they see the reality of the world.

  • Kids copy their parents, so they’ll mimic your emotions.
  • As an emotionally healthy adult, you’ll show your kids that it’s normal to have both positive and negative feelings. If you’re open about them, they’ll be able to learn from you.
  • You may be tempted to protect your children from your real emotions. However,  you’ll miss a teaching opportunity.

2. Avoid judging feelings. Adults sometimes criticize others and their feelings. Your kids are always watching, so they learn to judge others too.

  • When you judge and criticize the emotions of others, you show your kids that it’s normal to make fun of or mock other people.
  • They can suffer emotional damage because they learn to criticize others or become scared to show their own feelings.
  • It’s also important to avoid labeling feelings as good or bad. Sometimes you may be happy, and sometimes you may be sad, but both are normal. Help your children to accept and not to be ashamed of how they feel.

3. Avoid telling your kids how to feel. When you try to control a child’s emotions, the situation often gets worse and leads both of you down a dangerous path.

  • You can’t control every aspect of your child’s life. If you try to tell children how to feel, they can become scared to show their true emotions. They learn that they can’t be honest about their feelings, so they stifle or hide them.
  • When you tell your kids they have to be happy, you prevent them from figuring out why they don’t feel this way.
  • Parents often feel that their kids are an extension of their personalities and expect them to act and feel the same way. However, each child is a unique individual. You can’t expect them to feel the same way as you.

4. Resolve your emotional wounds. You’ll find it difficult to teach your kids how to deal with their feelings when you’re struggling with your own. Kids naturally copy their parents, so they may pick up on your traumas.

  • Take care to prevent the emotional wounds from your past or present from carrying over to your children. 

5. Ask questions. Kids benefit from opportunities to discuss their emotions. Ask questions and find out how they feel, rather than assuming what they’re feeling.

  • When you ask about their feelings, your kids will learn to articulate them. They’ll learn to express their thoughts and emotions.

Emotionally healthy children grow up to be successful and happy adults. They’ll also be able to use these skills when they get older and face challenges. The ability to be emotionally available and knowledgeable is a powerful tool. Your kids will enjoy great advantages from learning about their feelings.