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Dental Care Advice

Caring for your child’s teeth can be tough at the best of times. For children with a learning disability, autism or both, there may be extra challenges such as sensory issues around having their teeth brushed or the texture of toothpaste. Some children are unable to describe tooth pain.

A healthy mouth is important for overall health and wellbeing. Good oral hygiene can affect your child’s ability to eat, sleep, talk and play. And it’s also important for how they feel about themselves. Tooth decay and gum disease are the most common UK dental problems, but are mostly preventable. Identifying dental problems and treating them early enables children to continue to lead fulfilling lives.

Here are some tips to help you provide the best dental care possible for a child with autism or special educational needs:

  1. Start early: It's important to establish good dental hygiene habits early on, so start brushing your child's teeth as soon as they appear. This will help your child get used to the sensation and make dental care less intimidating.

  2. Create a routine: Children with autism or sen thrive on routine and predictability. Establish a regular schedule for brushing and flossing their teeth, and stick to it as closely as possible.

  3. Use visual aids: Many children with autism or sen respond well to visual aids, such as picture schedules or social stories. Use these tools to help your child understand the importance of dental hygiene and what to expect during a dental visit. Have a look at the TomTags Self Care Pack.

  4. Choose sensory-friendly dental products: Some children may be sensitive to certain textures or flavours. Look for toothbrushes, toothpaste, and floss that are designed for sensitive teeth and gums. Look at the options in our Oral Care collection.

  5. Prepare for the dental visit: If your child is nervous about visiting the dentist, prepare them by explaining what will happen during the visit. You can also request a "meet and greet" appointment with the dentist before the actual appointment to help your child get familiar with the office and staff.

  6. Be patient and persistent: Dental care can be challenging for any child, but it may take more time and effort for a child with autism or SEN. Be patient and persistent in your efforts to establish good dental hygiene habits, and don't give up if your child resists at first. Over time, your child will likely become more comfortable with dental care and will benefit from a healthy smile.

Contact has produced a downloadable FREE Parent's Guide to oral health and dental care with a learning disability, autism or both.
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