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Reasons to Choose a Pediatric Dentist for Children With Special Needs
Children who visit a pediatric dentist and learn proper oral hygiene at an early age can carry good habits into adulthood and avoid a wide range of dental complications. Children with special needs are especially vulnerable to dental problems that early intervention can prevent.
Why select a child-focused dentist?
Dentists who focus on children's oral health from infancy through the teen years receive training to monitor and ensure that children's mouths develop correctly. These dentists adapt techniques and instruments to accommodate small and growing jaws and mouths and know how to manage the oral concerns of children with special needs, including those with:
- Physical or mental challenges
- Emotional or behavioral needs
- Sensory or eating habits and aversions
How can a pediatric dentist help?
Children who anticipate pain or discomfort develop a fear of the dentist, and dental visits may be particularly challenging for children with special needs. Fortunately, dentists who dedicate themselves to working with children can ensure that those with special needs have a positive or enjoyable experience.
A welcoming environment
First impressions go a long way toward helping children with special needs remain calm and excited to move through dental visits. A well-lit and softly colored environment, calming music, and friendly and welcoming staff can help children feel safe and secure. Children who look forward to visiting a dental office are more likely to receive the preventative or corrective care needed to maintain healthy mouths.
Questions and answers
The dentist spends time getting to know a child and offer explanations and answers to questions about what will happen during a visit. A dentist who gains a child's trust can more easily complete all the necessary procedures during a single visit.
A pediatric dentist may allow children to hold and touch instruments and demonstrate what will happen during the exam using stuffed animals or dolls. Children can also take turns trying the tools on models to gain a sense of control. The dentist can also partner with children and parents to develop an appropriate home care routine that children can easily follow.
Cues from children
Child-focused dentists are constantly looking for signs of fear or discomfort to avoid overwhelming patients with special needs. Asking for permission to resume working helps to build trust that gives the child a sense of security. The dentist can also develop a system of communicating discomfort for children who cannot speak.
A pediatric dentist must demonstrate considerable patience when dealing with children who have special needs. For example, it may be necessary to schedule multiple visits to the dental office before a child feels comfortable entering the exam room. Taking time to help children feel safe and acclimate to the environment can develop trust with the dentist and staff to ensure productive and ongoing visits.
Children with special needs are vulnerable to dental problems that can be complications of multiple factors. A pediatric dentist is well-equipped to address and prevent tooth decay and other challenges that can compromise oral health.
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