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How to Find a Pediatric Dentist for Children with Autism

Finding a dentist for an autistic child

Finding a dentist for any child can be a difficult process. It’s a search that takes a great deal of research and care. However, if your child has Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), you’ll want to be especially careful to find the ideal dentist for your autistic child. It can be an unnerving process if you’re not sure what to look for.

At Toothfairy Pediatric Dental in Reno, we care for all of our young patients. But, we especially pride ourselves as an office that gives exceptional care to all children on the autism spectrum. If you’re wondering how to find the best pediatric dentist for your child with autism, we have some tips that can help you with your search.

We understand that not every recommendation may line up with your child’s situation. After all, the adage is true: “If you’ve met one child with autism, you’ve met one child with autism.” This is not meant to be a one-size-fits-all list. Rather, it’s just a compilation of recommendations to consider as you start your search for a dentist for your autistic child.

Good Oral Care Starts At Home

The best medicine is always preventive medicine. This is true with dentistry as well. Although you can’t eliminate trips to the pediatric dentist for your child with autism, you can reduce the number of visits they’ll need by giving your child good at-home oral care.

Depending on your child’s situation, toothbrushing time can be difficult for both the child and their caregiver. Consider some of these tips to make tooth brushing time more productive and less stressful.

  • Create a visual schedule: A simple chart with pictures can help guide a child with ASD through their tooth brushing routine.
  • Allow them to brush first: You’ll build the best habits by letting them brush their own teeth first. Once they’re done, you can follow up and hit any spots they may have missed.
  • Count as you brush: Your child could feel less anxious as you brush their teeth if you count to a certain number. This way, they’ll understand when the time to brush is over.
  • Allow a distraction: Letting your child watch a video on a tablet or phone may allow them to feel more comfortable as their teeth are brushed.

Find a routine that works best for your child. Because most children with ASD thrive on routine, you’ll find that this will make tooth brushing time much smoother overall.

Considering Special Needs Dentistry

Even though you’re helping your child brush their teeth twice a day, they’ll still need to be seen by a pediatric dentist at least twice a year. Your child may be stressed by a traditional dentist’s office, which is why finding a pediatric dentist for your child with autism is incredibly important.

First of all, finding a pediatric dentist instead of a family dentist is important, because a pediatric dentist has had special schooling and training to help them better meet the needs of children. Every child has unique circumstances, and their dentist must be distinctly trained to assist in their care. This is why seeing a pediatric dentist is so vital.

Additionally, your pediatric dentist should be comfortable caring for children with special needs. If your child spins, stims, or has trouble staying still, we’ll help do everything we can to help them feel relaxed while they’re getting their work done.

Dentistry for children with autism

Utilizing Sedation Dentistry

When you’re searching for a pediatric dentist for your child with autism, it’s also helpful to consider finding a dentist who utilizes sedation dentistry. Why is this important? Because visiting the dentist can cause great anxiety for children, and this can be especially true for children with special needs.

If your autistic child needs more extensive work such as a root canal, your best option is to work with a pediatric dentist who specializes in sedation dentistry. While your pediatric dentist does the delicate work they need to do with your child’s teeth and gums, they will be able to relax as they are gently and safely sedated. We have several options of sedation dentistry available, including nitrous oxide (laughing gas) and general anesthesia.

Finding A Special Needs Dentist

Now that you can recognize what you should look for in a pediatric dentist for your child with autism, how do you narrow the field? There may be several practices in your area, so how can you choose the right one for your child?

  • Ask other special needs parents: Consider asking some parents who you trust for advice. Because they understand your unique situation in ways other parents don’t, they’ll likely have some helpful recommendations for you.
  • Consider local resources: Do you have local support groups for families who have a child with ASD? These groups may be able to identify dentists in your area that are highly recommended. Visit Autism Speaks for more information about resources in your area.
  • Visit the office: There’s no substitute for a visit to the pediatric dentist’s office. As you well know, just because an office is loving and comfortable doesn’t mean it’s the right practice for your child. Call ahead and ask the office if you can bring your child to visit, perhaps right when the office is closing. Allow them to wander freely in the lobby. If possible, let them climb up into the dentist’s chair while an oral hygienist or dentist shows them some of their tools.

Visit Toothfairy Pediatric Dental In The Reno Area

If you live in Reno, midtown Reno, Gardnerville, Sparks, Fernley, or Sun Valley, the best pediatric dentist for your child with autism is Toothfairy Pediatric Dental. We love all of our young patients, but we’ve got a big heart for children with special needs. We want to be the dentist your autistic child can trust for many years to come.

Schedule a visit with us by calling (775) 800-4117 or contacting us online. We accept most major dental insurance plans, including Nevada Medicaid. We also have convenient payment options for families who need to pay out of pocket. We hope to meet your family soon!