Visiting a Dentist
Remember when you kept your childs first tooth – when the Tooth Fairy came in dark of night and swapped it for a shiny sixpence! (Inflation since my childhood now going rate is at least a £1.00 coin!)
We are taught from an early age to look after our teeth, about oral hygiene, how to brush correctly and how often. We are told that some foods are better for your teeth than others – too many sweets and sugary treats rot your teeth…
Some children can really struggle with all of this. Some children cannot tolerate different foods – often those that are good for us are a ‘no go’. Some children have food intolerances, specific dietary needs, PEG fed, Reflux, dysphagia, PICA, ARFID, Projectile Vomiting, ‘Picky eating, Beige Diet or other Food issues, that may indirectly affect the Teeth and Gums.
The feel of the toothbrush - soft, medium of hard bristle is just too much, the feeling of the plastic toothbrush in the mouth is almost painful for some. The smell, texture, the taste of the toothpaste - yuk – just too much sensory overload! Many children and young people try to avoid tooth brushing at all costs – it is often the source of many a meltdown in households across the land every morning and every evening!
As parents we try to find a way to help – we look for different textures of brush, different shapes, 3 headed toothbrushes, angled toothbrush or Finger Toddler Toothbrush which is ideal for very sensory led little or bug cherubs or even musical toothbrushes.
We look for toothpaste that tastes nicer – strawberry, banana, even flavour-less!
Some children might just chew the toothbrush instead of brushing – maybe they can get the chew sensation from a chewy tube or similar instead to help the toothbrush last a bit longer.
Not brushing at all seems like an option but we know that not brushing at all leads to tooth decay, gum disease and even multiple extractions. So, we persevere.
So now fingers crossed the daily deed is a little easier - next stop
Find a Dentist.
Gone are the days when the Dentist Van would rock up outside the school and you got your check up there and then – and even sometimes a quick filling. (Giving my age away!) Now, we must find a local Dentist – hopefully one not too far from home. Then we must register our cherub and explain to the nice Dentist that check-ups may be tricky or to be frank, sometimes quite dangerous! We need the nice Dentist to be calm, understanding, patient and most of all – to like children! Sometimes if we are lucky, we can find a Community Dentist who has training and experience in looking after the mouths of children and adults with additional needs. When we find the elusive Dentist, we are not going to let them go. So now we begin the process of desensitizing our little cherub to all things Dental Surgery. Visits to the place itself come first might need to be explained – try https://booksbeyondwords.co.uk/bookshop/going-to-the-dentist
– then meet the staff, then look at the equipment, sit in the chair, lots to think about – lots of new stuff to get cherubs head around.
Use of visuals can be very helpful – try TomTag – I Can Do It Minikits
For some useful Makaton symbols – try
and for a very useful booklet ‘Your Dental Appointment – a positive choice’
It may take weeks or even months for the nice Dentist to build up enough trust for cherub to open their mouth – then examine what’s going on inside.
The process is so worth it. I went through all this process with my son and now he is happy to have a regular full dental examination and sometimes even a scale and polish – thanks to his Community Dentist Mark and team!
For more information read Contact's Dental Care information.