He loves the Beatles, dishing out fist bumps, taking long drives in his Dad’s 1966 Mustang, and learning how to spell new words. He also just so happens to be diagnosed with Autism. While this can change how he takes in the world around him, it does not stop him from having fun and taking on new challenges like any other 12 year old kid. In fact, Dylan is an absolute superstar when it comes to visiting the Pediatric Dentist and getting his teeth cleaned!
Here are some great tips and tricks that can be implemented at home in preparing for comfortable and fun dental visits. These have worked so well for Dylan and we trust they will help other children too!
1.) Repetition, Repetition, Repetition
-Practice brushing teeth together every night. Dylan usually starts off by brushing his own teeth. His parents makes sure to allow Dylan to have some control with the brush, so he can build independence, confidence, and skills! Once Dylan is finished, Mom or Dad will take over to make sure his teeth are clean and healthy. Daily practice helped Dylan become more comfortable with people looking and working inside the mouth.
2.) Introduce A Motorized Toothbrush
-Dylan uses a Sonicare toothbrush at home! The vibrations from the Sonicare has helped prepare Dylan for the similar vibrations a child feels when they have a professional cleaning done. For kids with sensory processing difficulties, introducing a motorized toothbrush can sometimes take time. You can let your child play with the toothbrush just to get started! As the child becomes more familiar with the motorized brush, you can slowly incorporate introducing it to their oral hygiene routine at home! Stores such as Target or Walmart have affordable children’s motorized brushes with fun characters to choose from!
-Dylan has become much more comfortable and excited about brushing teeth because of the encouragement and rewards he has gotten from his parents! Dylan getting time to practice brushing teeth and being rewarded with a favorite YouTube video or song has turned a potentially difficult activity into a fulfilling activity! Small actions of picking out the color of the toothbrush or floss sticks can add an extra dash of fun and independence!
One of the most important steps that Dylan’s Mom has taken to encourage a more positive dental experience was to communicate and demonstrate things that Dylan likes or does not like from the very first visit. From that moment, we were able to customize his dental visits to best work for him!
Some of the steps we take here at Smile Wonders to make sure Dylan is as comfortable include:
- Having a comfortable and inviting setting! Dylan enjoys hanging out in the play area filled with iPads, Netflix, and comfy areas to hang out in before visits.
- Understanding that some kiddos respond well when we allow for a longer appointment duration and take our time by giving breaks as needed.
- Ask for permission before each step.
- Approaching him from the front to reduce the risk of surprises!
- Allowing him to see and feel each instrument before starting.
- Counting down during each step so Dylan knows exactly how long he has to keep his mouth open and stay still.
- Scheduling Dylan with the same assistant and same room for each visit. Consistency helps build trust, which provides extra comfort to Dylan and his Mom!
- Having Dylan return for more frequent and simple cleaning visits so he can become familiar with each step of an appointment.
Each of the above steps adds up significantly towards our goal of building trust and familiarity. These are key to obtaining effective and enjoyable visits for Dylan, his mom, and the dental team.
Fresh and New Dental Relationship: This is where we started!
Established Fun-Loving Dental Relationship: This is where we have come!
Just like anything else, practice makes perfect!
Dylan is one of our favorite kiddos and has become one of our most cooperative patients here at Smile Wonders. The progress he makes with each dental visit makes us so proud and honored to be part of his healthcare team! Way to go Dylan!