Where to start?
Well, my son has always struggled with brushing his teeth. When he was younger, I had to brush his teeth. Every morning was a struggle. It was only from speaking to his Occupational Therapist I then realized that my son had sensory issues with brushing his teeth. Using unflavoured toothpaste was recommended to me. When I tried brushing his teeth with this toothpaste, I noticed an improvement. He would let me brush his teeth without having a stand-off.
My son is now ok to use flavoured toothpaste and has been using it for at least 2 years now.
My son’s visits to the dentist did not go down too well. It was noise overload, and he wouldn’t sit down in the dentist chair. I thought that maybe if I took him along to one of my appointments, this would help. Nope! I waved at him and showed him a thumbs up as the dentist was checking my teeth. Bless him, he was worried for me. He looked petrified and said to the dentist what are you doing to my mum?
As well as the dentist experience, my son struggles with the motion of brushing his teeth. I used an app on the iPad, showing him how to brush his teeth along to the music.
He was not brushing his teeth properly and he got tooth decay. Back to the dentist we go. Ten seconds into us being in the dentist room, the dentist knew that giving him a filling was not going to happen. He was extremely nervous and jumped at every sound. She made a referral to a community dental service. (this process took a while)
Community Dental Service
We walked into the dentist service, and the lady at reception handed my son an iPad to play games on while waiting to be seen. I had to check that this was the right place as I have never seen that before.
The dentists here are trained to support children with learning difficulties and additional needs. The dentist spoke clearly, step by step to my son while signing. The dentist would explain what she would be doing, and let my son touch the instruments before use.
Although this was a calm and relaxing experience, my son was still hesitant to have any fillings. He needed three by now. The dentist did not want to refer him to the hospital first call to have his fillings. She then decided to get him use to the experience of visiting the dentist, making sure that he’s comfortable with being in this environment.
The dentist booked us in for three more appointments to gradually build him up for each filling and to also show him brushing techniques, giving him care and building a relationship of trust and support.
My son managed to have his fillings with the dentist using gas and air, while I was holding his hand. I know that the dentist experience can be daunting for a lot of people in general but for someone who has sensory needs, it can be overwhelming, I was very proud of him.
The dentist at the community dental service is waiting for all of my son’s adult teeth to come through before referring him to the Orthodontist. He will be needing braces. Shortly my son will be discharged from the community dental service and will attend his previous dental centre. However, the dentist said that if there are any problems, then I can make another referral.
Can you relate to this dentist experience?
Have you got any handy tips to help with going to the dentist?
*This post is based on personal experience.