A pediatric dentist works with the general population of children, yet within that population there are segments that sometimes need just a little extra loving care, which we are trained for, and glad to provide. We refer to these as our special needs patients.

Almost 20% of children in the U.S. have special health care needs that run the gamut from medical to developmental to behavioral, and encompass, but are not limited to:

  • Nonverbal
  • Down’s Syndrome
  • Cerebral Palsy
  • Autism Spectrum Disorders
  • Epilepsy
  • ADHD
  • Anxiety
  • Cleft Lip and Palate
  • Traumatic Brain Injury
  • Liver Cirrhosis

Dental Care for Children with Special Needs


We encourage the family to attend a desensitization appointment as a “meet and greet” consultation to allow the child to experience the dentist in a non-threatening first meeting and prepare for their upcoming dental appointment. When dental procedures such as cleanings, cavity fillings or other work are needed, we customize them to the child’s tolerance and needs. We find that scheduling more-frequent low-pressure visits are easier to handle than one large appointment. Parents and caregivers are encouraged to accompany their child in the treatment areas for comfort and familiarity.

Some patients may benefit from early morning appointments so that they are fresh, most rested, and relaxed. Some patients do better mid-day as their normal medications may get a chance to work and we do not interrupt their morning routine. While, some patients would like to come at a time when there are no other patients in the reception area. We take all the preferences in consideration to set up for the most successful dental visit.

Quiet Room

Many children with special needs feel safe in their own room and defined safe space at Smile Wonders. There are no other children playing and distracting or causing over stimulation. They can wear headphones and connect to televisions mounted to the ceiling or listen to their favorite music. It helps them to relax and avoid having to listen to the normal sounds associated with a dental office. They are also free to enjoy our other play areas.

Specialized Equipment

The dental equipment and techniques are also adapted for children with special needs, such as those who cannot stand or sit motionless, creating a more pleasant visit to the dentist. Recommendations for modified brushing routine and tricks, as well as frequency schedule are provided for each child.

Collaboration with Other Providers

Dr. Rishita at Smile Wonders works with area Developmental Pediatricians, Occupational therapists, or Speech Language Pathologists to provide a ‘Visual Social Schedule’, at home ‘Oral stimulatory exercises’ or coordinates appointment with ‘Sensory Diet’ prior to dental appointments. This personalized activity plan gives children the sensory input they need to reduce anxiety, remain attentive, focused and organized throughout their day.

At Smile Wonders, children with special needs and their parents are treated with care and compassion, and receive the same high level of dental care as all our patients. We love your child like you do, and through proper oral hygiene and regular dental visits can help ensure a healthy and happy smile throughout the child’s life.

Contact Smile Wonders

If you are looking for a pediatric dentist experienced with special needs children, schedule your appointment with Dr. Rishita Jaju at Smile Wonders today. Our practice is conveniently located in Reston, Virginia.