Parenting Corner – Autism and dental health
Dental or oral hygiene is part of a healthy lifestyle for everyone. Experts point out the need for regular dental checkups to maintain the health of our teeth and gums as a preventive measure.
Going to a dentist is not an easy experience for children and can be even more challenging for children with autism.
Autism is a brain disorder that affects social interaction, communication and behavior with varying intensities and types.
The condition makes it difficult for children to accept changes in routine, meeting new people and interacting with them. It has been found that children with autism tend to have more dental health issues as compared to other children.
Children with autism may avoid brushing their teeth properly due to sensory issues. They may also have irregular placements and unhealthy teeth due to deficiencies.
Dr. Jeeva Rathan J is a Pediatric Dentist with years of experience of treating children with autism. He shared his valuable insight with NewzHook.
The common oral health problems faced by the children with autism are dental caries, periodontal diseases and trauma to their dentition. Apart from these abnormal oral habits like bruxism, tongue thrusting and self-injurious behavior and their regular medications can have deleterious effect on their oral structures. The various challenges faced by the dentist are communication and behavioral problems limited to their mental capability, unusual response to stimuli, unpredictable body movements. The treatment can be done in a normal clinical set up based on the cooperating ability of the child or else full mouth rehabilitation will be done under general anesthesia. Hence oral care for these children are very important which if started early from the level of prevention of diseases like fluoride application, pit and fissure sealants will be of great concern. Dr Jeeva Rathan J Pediatric Dentist.
He also added that proper and regular oral hygiene measures and periodic visits to a dentist especially a pediatric dentist will be a great help in the oral care of these children.
Tips for parents before a dental check up
Let the child understand why going to dentist is important.
Use flashcards, audio visual aids or stories to explain dental care.
Help the child feel comfortable at the dentist.
Take the child to the dentist for simple painless checkups at first so that child is not scared and is familiarized with the set up.
Let the staff know in advance about sensory issues of the child about tastes, smells, textures, sounds, lights or touch.
Explain the steps involved to the child before they are initiated.
Be prepared to use the coping skills that normally help the child feel less anxious.
- Remember that the visit is as challenging for the child and staff as is for you as a parent. Work together to get the best possible outcome and treatment for the children.
“My daughter had lot of dental issues growing up and at times taking her to a dentist used to be the most difficult task. However, over time we have been able to ensure that she got the much needed treatments. Parents of children with autism should never ignore their dental health. Get the child treated on time to avoid unnecessary complications and discomfort. says Sangeeta Arun, parent of child with autism, SCAN member.