Local Dentists Trained To Serve Autistic Patients — (2023)

Local Dentists Trained To Serve Autistic Patients — (1)
For children with autism, even simple daily tasks can turn into complicated situations. A dentist appointment for example, can be quite the ordeal with an autistic child. For these children, going to a specialized dentist who can provide proper care can help make the process and procedures as smooth as possible.

The problem is that a dentist office is full of various stimuli. This involves things like loud noises, the various tools and instruments, as well as overall stress that going to a dentist can bring. Also, keep in the potential for meeting a large number of new people that can be a trigger for some kids. The dentist’s office can be a stressful experience for any kid, and having autism only makes that worse.
Local Dentists Trained To Serve Autistic Patients — (2)
With that in mind, it’s also important for people of all ages to visit their dentist regularly. Children with autism shouldn’t be deprived of this important step toward oral and overall health.

Luckily, working with a trained dentist can make the experience smooth and pleasant for all involved. There are many special needs dentists who are happy to work with children with autism, and will take the steps necessary to help them feel comfortable from check in until walking out.

Common Dental Problems Found in Patients with Autism

In general, the dental problems that autistic patients suffer from are very similar to other patients. The biggest issues arise when a child does not receive regular dental visits and issues are allowed to progress. The longer you wait between checkups the worse issues get, so it’s important to follow the schedule recommended by your dentist.

Dental issues also stem from improper care at home. It’s important to start learning good habits such as brushing and flossing at home. Building these routines early helps contribute to good oral health later. This can be challenging with children with autism, but it’s important to follow through and make sure it’s taken seriously.

That said, those with autism are more likely to develop certain oral problems based on their behaviors. This includes things like tongue thrusting, bruxism, and hyper gag reflex. If you suspect any of these issues it’s important to visit a dentist right away to prevent them from worsening. Also, be sure to listen to your child for any complaints of pain or other oral problems.

(Video) Oral Health Instructions for Special Needs Patients in a General Dental Setting, By Dr. JacobDent

Preparing for The Visit

When setting up your dental visit good planning is essential. Due to the nature of autism, what is considered a trigger for your child is likely to be vastly different from others. For that reason, it’s important to understand what sets your child off and plan accordingly.

The best first step is to simply call the dentist office and express your concerns over the stimuli likely to upset your child. Many dentists are happy to work with you and provide an environment that will keep your child comfortable. This includes involving the whole staff, from the receptionist to the hygienist, and making sure they understand the situation. Some additional strategies might be:
Local Dentists Trained To Serve Autistic Patients — (3)

Sensory Support: Some families will give their child headphones or sunglasses to help reduce the stimuli in the office. The glasses help with the bright lights that dentists use to properly see into your mouth, while the headphones can reduce the noise from drills and other dental instruments. These ideas are specific to your child, so give some thought to the dental procedure, and what types of stimuli might be present that could upset your child.

Explain The Process: Many parents start by going through the whole process first before even going to the dental office. This is especially important with children with autism, as it can help them understand the process before going. Using visual aids can help make the process less scary. Anything to help your child understand the process can potentially put them at ease.

Show The Process On You First: Some families also let their child watch them go through an exam first. The child sits in the room while the dentist goes through the process on the parent. This can help demystify the whole process and show them how easy the whole procedure is. Many times the unknown can be scary, so removing the curtain can help make the whole process easier.

Rewards: Many children respond well to rewards systems, and many dentists offer small toys after a visit. This is good encouragement, and letting your child know about the possibility of a reward for good behavior can help nudge them in the right direction.

(Video) Local dental school taking steps to serve people with special needs

These are just some simple ideas of what you can do to make the process as transparent as possible. The key is to understand the types of triggers that affect your child, and plan accordingly. As mentioned, always talk to the dentist first as they may have experience in dealing with autistic children and can help make everything as easy as possible.

Tips For Parents

As always, good dental hygiene starts at home. It’s just as important to make sure that good habits like brushing and flossing are developed at home, and then supplemented by a dental visit. Setting up good habits early can help prevent issues in the long term.

Teach them Habits: As with any kid, building the core habits is important from a young age. Teach them the proper way to brush and floss, and emphasize how important is to do every night. It may seem like a losing battle at first, but over time you’ll ingrain it into them and they’ll get into the habit of doing so.
Local Dentists Trained To Serve Autistic Patients — (4)

Watch Diet: Children with autism may have dietary restrictions or extreme likes/dislikes for certain foods. While it’s important to work with your child, limiting their intake of sugary drinks and foods will help their teeth overall. Also, try to avoid them falling asleep with juice or other sugary drinks which can erode enamel and pool in the mouth.

Regular Checkups: While practicing good habits at home is key, nothing substitutes for an actual dentist visit. While it can be a stressful experience, hopefully the ideas in this article can help make the appointment pleasant for all. It really is extremely important, children with autism are less likely to receive regular checkups. This contributes to an overall lower quality of oral health.

Patients With Autism

Having an autistic child can make many things in life difficult, but it doesn’t have to make going to the dentist impossible. With a little bit of planning and forethought, going to the dentist can be a pleasant experience. It’s also very important to go to dentist, so don’t delay. The longer you wait the more of problem things become, so make it a point to go for regular checkups.

(Video) Dogs help autistic children cope at the dentist


What Can I Do To Help My Autistic Child at The Dentist?

It depends on a lot of the specifics of what sets of your child. The first step is to understand what sort of stimuli they respond negatively to, and then work to reduce that during the visit. For example, if loud noises set them off consider having them wear headphones during their appointment.

Local Dentists Trained To Serve Autistic Patients — (5)

What Are Some Tips For Keep My Autistic Child’s Teeth Healthy?

In general, follow the same oral care tips as anyone else including regular brushing and flossing. For those with autism, it sometimes requires additional support and reinforcement in order to develop the proper habits, so stick with it. It also means going to all your scheduled appoints as nothing can quite substitute for a professional cleaning and exam.

How Can the Dentist Help Autistic Children?

(Video) Transforming Care for people with Learning Disabilities and/ or Autism: Peter's Story

Many dentists are trained to deal with children that are on the spectrum. Your best bet is to call your dentist and discuss the situation with them. Many dentists work with autistic kids, and will do all they can to help ensure the appointment is smooth and pleasant. They also typically have their entire staff trained so they can be help make the entire process comfortable.

What Sort Of Oral Issues Are Autistic Individuals More At Risk For?

In general, autistic individuals have the same risk factors as everyone else. That said, certain behavioral issues can make it difficult to develop good dental habits, as well as making it difficult to visit a dentist. This can lead to a variety of different dental issues, but is largely based on the individual. The key is encourage good behavior and habits at home, and then make sure to follow up with scheduled dental appointments.

Are all pediatric dentists able to provide dental care for special needs patients who are children?
No, not all pediatric dentists are able to provide dental care for children with special needs. Although pediatric dentists are among the most qualified to provide these services, it often takes a large amount of extra training to become a special needs dentist. Many pediatric offices employ at least one dentist who has completed this type of training.

What if my child needs more support than my local special needs pediatric dentist can provide?
Sometimes a patient requires a little more support than a local special needs pediatric dentist can offer in a dental office setting. In this case, certain dentists can provide services in a hospital setting with a more comprehensive sedation plan or a plan for restraints that are provided in the hospital.

Let Us Help You Find a Special Needs Dentist Near You

When the time comes to search for a special needs dentist near you, the Emergencydentistsusa.com website is a perfect choice for beginning and ending the search. Just log onto our convenient website and scroll through our hand-selected listing of nearby special needs dentists. Click on the dental office that you choose, and view the services that each dentist offers. You can also find important information like insurances accepted, office hours, and driving directions right on the Emergencydentistsusa.com website. Pediatric dentists and adult special needs dentists are all listed in a format that is simple to follow and that is right at your fingertips. Use the Emergencydentistsusa.com website to select a dentist in your area, and even set up that first appointment using the information that is always available online. Our website makes selecting the right special needs dentist near you a simple task.


How do dentists deal with autistic children? ›

Some children with ASD may benefit from a gradual introduction to each step over multiple successive visits, rather than trying to restrain the child in an effort to accomplish everything at once. Some dental clinics may also offer desensitization visits to prepare for a cleaning or procedure.

Can autistic people go to the dentist? ›

With proper practice and preparation, regular dental visits for children with an autism spectrum disorder, sensory issues, or general anxiety, does not have to be a stressful or anxious event. Children's Dental Health welcomes families of autistic children and those with special needs.

What skills do you need to deal with autistic patient as a dental assistant? ›

For a successful dental visit of autistic child, the whole staff should be caring, empathetic, and aware of how to communicate with these patients. Patients are likely to be disturbed emotionally by surrounding distracting stimuli like sound, light, and taste.

How can you support an individual with autism to complete activity tasks? ›

Daily living strategies for people with autism
  • Ensuring they are aware of the necessity of the activity.
  • Breaking tasks down into simple step-by-step routines.
  • Teaching them the each step and encouraging them through the steps daily.
  • Gently providing prompts to support the completion of the task.

How does autism affect dental care? ›

People with autism experience few unusual oral health conditions. Although commonly used medications and damaging oral habits can cause problems, the rates of caries and periodontal disease in people with autism are comparable to those in the general population.

How do dentists deal with sensory issues? ›

Talk to your dentist
  1. Schedule a desensitization appointment (see next section)
  2. Schedule the main appointment at a time that is less busy.
  3. Use the patient's favorite toothpaste flavor—a taste sensation that they're already comfortable with.
  4. Provide the patient with a soft blanket to use during the appointment.

Do dentists have to provide disabled access? ›

Your rights to health care

Under the Disability Discrimination Act (DDA) you have rights of access to dentist surgeries. Dentists should make 'reasonable adjustments' to their premises and procedures.

How do I prepare for dentist autism? ›

Here are key things to keep in mind when preparing a child with autism for a dental visit
  1. Find an experienced dentist. ...
  2. Familiarise your child with the dentist. ...
  3. Taking pictures. ...
  4. Role play. ...
  5. Create a guide. ...
  6. Use storytelling. ...
  7. Manage your own anxiety. ...
  8. Make it comfortable.
Jun 24, 2022

What are 4 essential skills of a dental assistant? ›

Here are some of the skills you need to be successful as a dental assistant:
  • Administrative skills. ...
  • Communication skills. ...
  • Critical thinking. ...
  • Ability to follow instructions. ...
  • Good judgment. ...
  • Strong customer service skills. ...
  • Strong organizational skills. ...
  • Basic knowledge of dental medicine.

What are the four qualities of an efficient dental assistant? ›

The top dental assistant qualities:
  • Good listener. Dental assistants are on the front lines with patients every day. ...
  • Compassion. Patients are often nervous or scared. ...
  • Being a people person. If you love meeting new people, dental assisting is for you!
  • Perseverance. ...
  • Strong work ethic. ...
  • Dedication. ...
  • Reliability. ...
  • Organization.
Feb 26, 2016

What are your strong points as a dental assistant? ›

Excellent organizational skills

For example: Keeping patient records in the proper location. Maintaining accurate patient information. Ensuring dental instruments and materials are in the right place.

What is the best way to support someone with autism? ›

Support your friend if they ask for help. Be sensitive to what they want and need, not just how you think they should improve or behave. Try not to talk over or about them when others are around. Help them work on social skills by trying to engage them in conversations with yourself and others.

How do you help an autistic person when they are overstimulated? ›

Autism: Managing Over-stimulation and Stress
  1. Remember the rule of one. Use the rule of one when a child is deeply stressed, anxious or in the middle of a meltdown. ...
  2. Deep Breathing. ...
  3. Isometric Exercise. ...
  4. Deep Pressure. ...
  5. Massage. ...
  6. Provide a Box of Tactile Items. ...
  7. Create a Calming Area. ...
  8. Communication.
Apr 8, 2020

What skills do you need to work with people with autism? ›

Good communication with people with autism is vital. This includes recognising behaviour triggers, using visual prompts and speaking in short, clear sentences. Structure can help people with autism make sense of their day. It is important to emphasise positives when working with people with autism.

Is there a link between teeth and autism? ›

Literature suggests that many children with autism may be more at risk of suffering from certain dental conditions as a result of such characteristics. These may include tooth decay, gum disease, oral trauma, tooth wear, acid erosion and dry mouth conditions.

What is a dental manifestation of autism? ›

Oral manifestations of Autism Spectrum Disorder

Around 20-25% of individuals with ASD may present bruxism. Some may exhibit self-injurious behaviors such as picking at the gums, biting lips, or creating ulcerations. Some medications may have oral side effects.

What can I use instead of brushing my teeth for autism? ›

Try Floss and Other Toothbrush Varieties

Thick floss works well for teeth that are far apart while thinner flosses work better for teeth that are closer together. If you child struggles with manual floss, you can also try an electric or water flosser.

How do dentists deal with sensory overload? ›

Suggestions for Reducing Sensitivity During Dental Visits

Allow the child to have a fidget toy that provides "heavy work" during the session. Have the child wear a heavy or tight hat before and during the appointment. Use firm touch whenever touching the child. Verbally warn the child before each thing you do.

Can dentist desensitize a tooth? ›

Sometimes you need the assistance of your dental professional to desensitize your teeth. Your dentist can apply a thin layer of a fluoride gel or another type of desensitizing agent to strengthen your enamel which will help reduce teeth sensitivity and stop the transmissions to your nerves causing pain.

Can a dentist fix sensitivity? ›

Your dentist might apply fluoride to the sensitive areas of your teeth to strengthen tooth enamel and reduce pain. He or she might also suggest the use of prescription fluoride at home, applied via a custom tray. Desensitizing or bonding.

What is considered a dental disability? ›

Therefore, an individual should be considered to have a dental disability if orofacial pain, infection, or pathological condition and/or lack of functional dentition affect nutritional intake, growth and development, or participation in life activities.

Can a dentist not treat you? ›

While dentists, in serving the public, may exercise reasonable discretion in selecting patients for their practices, dentists shall not refuse to accept patients into their practice or deny dental service to patients because of the patient's race, creed, color, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, national ...

Are dentists allowed to refuse treatment? ›

Any treatment which your dentist provides on the NHS should be of the highest possible standard, and certainly a match for any treatment offered privately. It is against the rules for a dentist to refuse a specific treatment, such as root canal work, on the NHS, but then offer to do it privately.

How do dentists not get nervous? ›

Learn Ways to Calm Nerves Before a Dentist Visit
  1. Prepare to share your fears with your dentist. ...
  2. Plan ahead. ...
  3. Watch your food and water intake. ...
  4. Practice a deep breathing technique. ...
  5. Visit your dentist regularly, avoid skipping or prolonging appointments. ...
  6. Ask the doctor to explain the process with you beforehand.
Nov 6, 2022

How do I calm my autistic child at the dentist? ›

5 Tips for Helping Your Child With Autism Feel Comfortable at the Dentist
  1. #1. Find a Pediatric Dentist Who Is Familiar with Special Needs Dentistry. ...
  2. #2. Use Books and Videos to Introduce the Idea of “Going to the Dentist” ...
  3. #3. Act Out the Visit Beforehand. ...
  4. #4. Ask Questions Before Their Appointment. ...
  5. #5. ...
  6. About the Practice.
Jul 31, 2021

Why is it so hard to get an autism assessment? ›

Diagnosing autism spectrum disorder (ASD) can be difficult because there is no medical test, like a blood test, to diagnose the disorder. Doctors look at the child's developmental history and behavior to make a diagnosis.

Why do pediatric dentists appeal? ›

Because pediatric dentists have training in children's dental treatment, they are better able to calm kids who are scared. A pediatric dentist can advise you on issues such as pacifier use, breastfeeding, and teething. Plus thumb-sucking, sealants, late-emerging teeth, and children's sports mouthguards.

How do you clean a child with special needs teeth? ›

Make toothbrushing fun.

Sing a song while brushing your child's teeth. Or count or say the alphabet while you brush your child's teeth. You can also tell a story, say a nursery rhyme, or make animal sounds while brushing.

How do you pass the time at the dentist? ›

10 Ways to Relax in Your Asheville Dentist's Chair
  1. Talk to your Asheville dentist about your fears. ...
  2. Bring headphones, an MP3 player or iPod with your favorite music. ...
  3. Listen to comedy riffs or funny shows on your electronics. ...
  4. Practice deep-breathing exercises. ...
  5. Keep your eyes open.
Jul 2, 2015

Why is dental assisting so stressful? ›

A dental assistant is on their feet the whole day. It all adds to physical stress. Moreover, there are several uncomfortable positions in which the practitioner has to stand and use hands to provide treatment. There are days when they hardly get any rest; the patients come in continually, adding to heavy workloads.

What is one of the most important responsibilities of the dental office assistant? ›

One of a dental assistant's most important priorities is providing patient care. Often, patients may feel nervous or uncomfortable about visiting the dental office. Dental assistants play an important role in helping to alleviate any anxiety patients may have.

What are the three parts of certified dental assistant? ›

Certified Dental Assistant. DANB's CDA certification is made up of three exams: Infection Control (ICE), Radiation Health and Safety (RHS), and General Chairside Assisting (GC). You may take the exams separately or together.

What are three important qualities that dentists need? ›

The most important qualities a good family dentist should have are being knowledgeable, being an expert in their field, and being trustworthy. A dentist should have excellent communication skills and be compassionate.

What makes a good dental team? ›

5.1 A good team will have: good leadership; clear, shared aims, and work together to achieve them; and different roles and responsibilities, and understand those roles and responsibilities.

How do you know if dental assisting is right for you? ›

(Everyone can do it!)
  • You like making a difference in people's lives.
  • You like working with your hands (not sitting at a desk all day).
  • You like being a part of the team and having fun.
  • You want to have a good paying job with a lot of opportunities for advancement.

How much do dental assistants make? ›

Dental Assistant Salary

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), Dental Assistants earn an average salary of about $40,000 per year, and an average hourly wage of $19.00 per hour. These rates can vary depending on your employer, experience, and location.

What is the best therapy for adults with autism? ›

Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is a type of talk therapy that can be effective in helping children and adults. During CBT sessions, people learn about the connections between feelings, thoughts, and behaviors. This may help to identify the thoughts and feelings that trigger negative behaviors.

How do you calm an autistic person down? ›

Strategies to consider include distraction, diversion, helping the person use calming strategies such as fiddle toys or listening to music, removing any potential triggers, and staying calm yourself.

What kind of support do autistic adults need? ›

Many adults with autism live at home or with a friend or family member. When additional support is needed, in-home services may include a companion, homemaking/housekeeping, therapy and other health services, or personal care. Respite Care.

What triggers sensory overload in autism? ›

Sensory overload happens when an intense sensory stimulus overwhelms your ability to cope. This can be triggered by a single event, like an unexpected loud noise, or it can build up over time due to the effort it takes to cope with sensory sensitivities in daily life.

What does overstimulation look like in autistic adults? ›

Overstimulation (OS) occurs when there is “too much” of some external stimulus or stimuli for a person's brain to process and integrate effectively. This leads to an unpleasant sensation of being flooded and an impulse to escape the stimulus – or, failing that, to cry or scream or thrash about.

What is the difference between a shutdown and meltdown in autism? ›

Shutdowns tend to be more discreet than meltdowns, and may sometimes go unnoticed. However, like meltdowns, they are a person's response to reaching crisis point. Sometimes, meltdowns can turn into shutdowns.

What are workplace accommodations for high functioning autism? ›

Examples of reasonable accommodations include providing written instructions, allowing the use of headphones to block office noise, a modified training program, flexible scheduling, etc.

What is a good job for high functioning autism? ›

7 Great Jobs for Individuals with High Functioning Autism
  • Medical Laboratory Technologist.
  • Computer Programmer.
  • Reference Librarian.
  • Taxi Driver.
  • Telemarketer.
  • Artist/Designer.
  • Information Technology.

What are reasonable adjustments for autism work? ›

Reasonable adjustments for individual autistic workers might include:
  • paid time off when needed.
  • fixed hours rather than variable shifts.
  • reducing specific sensory stimuli in the workplace, e.g. locating that individual's workstation in a quieter or less bright part of the office.

How does anesthesia affect autistic child? ›

Although anaesthesia and sedation do not present a problem for most children with ASD, unpredictable regression in skills and behaviour is noted in a small number of patients after general anaesthesia. It may be appropriate therefore to adopt an anaesthetic technique suitable for patients with mitochondrial disease.

How do you get an autistic child to clean their teeth? ›

Develop a Reward System and Routine

Parents can also turn toothbrushing into a game called “Your Turn, My Turn” to help guide the child through each step. Finally, consider using verbal praise or a rewards system (such as a rewards jar) to reinforce positive behavior once toothbrushing is complete.

What is the best way to deal with an autistic meltdown? ›

Strategies to consider include distraction, diversion, helping the person use calming strategies such as fiddle toys or listening to music, removing any potential triggers, and staying calm yourself.

What relaxes an autistic child? ›

Give your child space, don't touch them, and keep other people away. Turn down lights and keep things quiet, or give your child noise-cancelling headphones. Let one person speak to your child, but don't say too much. Stay calm and wait.

What adjustments are needed for autism? ›

Reasonable adjustments for individual autistic workers might include:
  • paid time off when needed.
  • fixed hours rather than variable shifts.
  • reducing specific sensory stimuli in the workplace, e.g. locating that individual's workstation in a quieter or less bright part of the office.

What is the best anesthesia for autism? ›

Sevoflurane is an inhaled general anesthetic. It is a highly fluorinated methyl isopropyl. This is often a well-tolerated general anesthetic for kids with autism. Because many anesthesiologists like to give Nitrous Oxide before administering Sevoflurane, please see the above information about Nitrous Oxide.

What organ systems does autism affect? ›

Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a heterogeneous, behaviorally defined, neurodevelopmental disorder that has been modeled as a brain-based disease. The behavioral and cognitive features of ASD are associated with pervasive atypicalities in the central nervous system (CNS).

What puts a child at higher risk for autism? ›

Advanced parental age at time of conception. Prenatal exposure to air pollution or certain pesticides. Maternal obesity, diabetes, or immune system disorders. Extreme prematurity or very low birth weight.

What toothpaste is safe for autism? ›

Unflavored Toothpaste Oranurse – Oranurse is an unflavored toothpaste that's specially formulated for autistic children who have a problem with taste. This non-foaming toothpaste has the daily recommended fluoride and does not contain any traces of sodium lauryl sulfate.

Can autism affect hygiene? ›

Personal hygiene is an important part of keeping healthy.

Developing self-care skills such as washing and personal hygiene can sometimes be an issue for autistic people. Sensory differences, such as a heightened sense of smell or touch, can make washing an uncomfortable experience.

Does brushing help autism? ›

By rubbing the brush across the skin, the pressure input targets touch receptors and helps a child organize his/her central nervous system. This can calm down any over-active receptors that are misfiring and help bring a child's level of alertness to a normal (calm) level.


1. Dr. Jacob Dent, Special Needs Dentistry for the General Dentist
(Elevate Oral Care)
2. Autism: What’s New, What’s True & How Do We Provide Care?
(Henry Schein Dental)
3. Oral Hygiene in Children with Autism
(Autism Recovery Network)
4. Once a non-verbal child with autism, Ava hopes her story will help other kids with special needs
5. Children At Risk: Kids And Sedation At The Dentist’s Office | NBC News
(NBC News)
6. Providing Dental Treatment For Children with ASD
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