Dentist appointments and special needs - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 10 Old 10-28-2008, 06:31 PM - Thread Starter
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How does everyone with SN kids handle dentist appointments? My 10yo son has PDD-NOS and ADHD. He's extremely scared of the dentist and it's a major ordeal just to get him through a cleaning. He has a lot of sensory issues and hates the light in his eyes, sitting back in the chair, water sprayer, suction, etc. It doesn't help that he's had a lot of dental work and has really bad teeth.

The last two times he needed a lot of work done so they referred him to a pediatric dentist who did it under general anesthesia in the hospital. This time he only needs 3 fillings. I told them not to refer me to the same dentist. When I took him there before I refused to sign their papers saying I wouldn't go in the room and they could use restraints, so they said they couldn't do it unless he was in the hospital. I don't think they would do general for only 3 cavities and I don't want my son going under every time he needs a filling. I will not use restraints on him, either. He's 10 years old! I would say velcroing him up and subjecting him to an extreme phobia would be the equivalent of torture or rape to him.

He's on medicaid and I'm sure everyone knows that there's not a lot of dentists who will take it. I'm really not sure what to do at this point. They did give me a referral to a different dentist but they said I would have to ask her about her policies, so chances are they're the same.

What questions should I ask a dentist when I call to make an appointment? And are there any tips for getting through an appointment?
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#2 of 10 Old 10-28-2008, 08:39 PM
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I couldn't find ANY dentists I liked with medicaid, we got seperate dental insurance through DH's work for just that reason.

The dentist we use has a SN child himself, and he totally rocks with my kids. He turns off the overhead lights and allows the kids to wear sunglasses if he needs it on. He also goes slow and explains everything carefully. If possible, ask to break it up into shorter visits instead of trying to do it all at once. Get cool sun glasses for the exam and ask for a patient dentist and extra time for explaining and such.

Mom to Joscelyne 14, Andrew 12, and Mackenzie 10 and wife to Nate.
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#3 of 10 Old 10-28-2008, 08:54 PM
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Have you tried Social Stories about the dentist with him? I'm not sure if that would do much at this point in the game because he knows what happens when you go to the dentist, but maybe you could have him watch DVDs for kids about what happens when you go to the dentist or read some books with him about the dentist. The good thing about DVDs in particular is that he can watch them over and over to familiarize himself with it and sort of make it into a routine. You could play dentist with him when he becomes more comfortable with it. Some other things you could try are having him wear sunglasses or a covering over his eyes so the light isn't blinding him and talking to the dentist beforehand and asking him to explain what he's going to do before he does it.
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#4 of 10 Old 10-29-2008, 12:14 AM
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I'm not sure I have a lot of advice, other than keep looking. We got lucky and our first try is an AWESOME dentist whom we love and won't give up for anything. And, to top it off, he takes medicaid DS has been going to him for almost 15 months. He has been going every 3 months and the dentist works with him a tiny bit every 3 months. After 5 visits Owen will now let the dentist put a regular kids toothbrush with no toothpaste in his mouth for a super quick brush. He will lay down and let the dentist look in his mouth quickly (without the use of tools) as long as he has a mirror so he can look too. So far everything looks great so I'm not too worried about forcing more. We're working at his pace. Although, with his pace it looks like he'll be maybe.... 12 before we get a whole cleaning in

Steph, DH Jason (1-1-11), DS Owen (10-3-03) and DS Kai (10-13-11)

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#5 of 10 Old 10-29-2008, 12:40 PM
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If you have an Easter Seals location near you, call them and ask. We are going to a free dental clinic tomorrow at our ES.

DD1 = 8 yrs *** DD2 = 6 yrs
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#6 of 10 Old 10-29-2008, 08:58 PM
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Usually dentists offer a large pair of sunglasses or smaller/darker rubbery ones. Is it possible to call the dentist and see if they'll let you and your son do a "pretend" visit where he can sit in the chair and they look in it, etc for about 10 min, just to be able to see if he can be desensitized? Maybe, also try IPOD with earbuds with a favorite song he could listen to & lastly, I know that my kids with SPD love their weighted blankets...if you don't have one, then the dentist's x-ray vests will have the same effect.

: Jewel~ Mama to 4. Quilting & Sewing WAHM living a natural life.
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#7 of 10 Old 10-30-2008, 03:23 PM
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First thing would be to get recomendations from local SN parents. they should know who's good. and secondly, social stories to prepare him.

Berkeley mom of 3 and President of Tender Cargo Baby Gear
and The Nurture Center Store and Resource Center 3399 Mt Diablo Bl Lafayette CA 888-998-BABY
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#8 of 10 Old 10-30-2008, 08:29 PM
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We use a pediatric dental practice. Worth the money for us. Ds (4yo, autistic, apraxic, essentially non-verbal) did great. They have overhead movies w/ head phones, gas, etc. Parents are absolutely allowed back there. I want all my kids to like going to the dentist (unlike me ), not just my sn child.

Ped dentists spend a huge part of the ped part of their residency learning to care for the SN population (at least according to our dentist). That training showed through w/ ours.
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#9 of 10 Old 10-30-2008, 08:36 PM
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My dentists office gave me sunglasses to wear during my cleaning and I'm an adult without SN. I thought it was great! I also brought my iPod so I didn't have to hear the sounds so much as that really bothers me. I listened to classical music as it was the easiest to calm me down and I could hear it well over the water pic thingy. But for a kid, white noise, nature sounds, or their favorite show on audio track might work well too.

I also highly recommend a couple of visits before the real visit to explore the chair, lights, ask questions to the dentist before the procedure, etc.

I remember when I was a kid, they'd have the suction thing in your mouth all the time and I hated that, but when I went a few weeks ago, she had me close my lips around it every few minutes. That was much easier.

Perhaps he could have the chair up for all of the parts that don't involve looking up at the top teeth, and then just do that part quickly? For some people, getting the laying back part over first would be better, for others they'd rather wait until the end. Your son would know best what would be easiest for him.

I think it might help for him to get a schedule or list of the procedure steps so he knows what is coming next and how close to the end it is? If the steps were numbered, he could know easily how close it was to the end.

Early intervention specialist and parent consultant since 2002.
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#10 of 10 Old 11-01-2008, 06:19 PM
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This is a timely question for me, as my daughter (5) with sensory issues has to have 4 teeth extracted on the 17th. We go to a pediatric dentist who has been very good with her - my daughter likes to go to the dentist! They talk the kids through everything that they are doing, are very calm, fun, etc. But my daughter has very healthy teeth and they have never had to do anything like a filling, etc.

However, I was a little nervous when the dentist told me that the teeth need to come out (adult teeth coming in, baby teeth showing no signs of budging) and she's only using nitrous. And she initially did not want me in the room (my daughter has major separation anxiety), which I vetoed.

The dentist thinks I am an over-anxious mother. She doesn't know my daughter as well as I do (who can often present very typically developing), and I just have to remind myself of that so I am not offended. She has extreme reactions to pain of any kind, and can work herself up into phobic frenzies. The dentist doesn't know this because they have never even had to scrape tartar off her teeth.

But I want to give it a go with this dentist because she has done great in the past, and the teeth need to come out asap, and I don't want to find another dentist. I think a different dentist would add another level of apprehension for my daughter.

So, pediatric dentist is a definite, and I would talk to them to be sure that they understand your child's special needs.

Best of luck,
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