How Can I Get My Child with Special Needs to Brush Their Teeth?
Teaching your kids to brush their teeth comes with challenges but can be especially difficult if a child has special needs. There are factors to consider, including sensory, physical, or mobility concerns. Here are a few tips that can help you teach your child about oral hygiene care for long-term healthy smiles.
Explore Different Kinds of Toothpaste
Consider exploring different brands, flavors, and colors of toothpaste. Your child may not like a particular one but may have difficulty expressing that to you. Make sure you choose toothpaste with the ADA seal of Acceptance.
Experiment With Toothbrushes
We recommend that adults help their children brush their teeth until they turn seven. However, kids with neurological and physical challenges may require help for a lot longer. In some cases, the task may be overwhelming due to difficulty holding or maneuvering the toothbrush. However, there are special toothbrushes available that may help your child develop this skill.
Talk to your child’s occupational therapist regarding toothbrush adaptations that may help; for example, special hand grips can make toothbrushes easier to hold. In some cases, electric toothbrushes may help because of their novelty, vibration, and ease of use. If your child clamps down on the brush or you have difficulty getting around all the teeth, a three-headed toothbrush can help clean all the tooth surfaces in one go.
It’s often helpful to demonstrate brushing and flossing on your child’s favorite stuffed animal or plushie. Visualizing their special friend’s oral hygiene care can help ease any anxiety. You can also have your child hold their snuggle buddy when it’s time to brush their own teeth for comfort.
Share a Social Story
Stories provide a fantastic tool to help you explain scenarios and develop familiarity and understanding. That may be especially helpful for children with autism. The visual cues will alleviate anxiety, help your child recognize when it’s time to brush, and create familiarity with the process.
Make Brushing Fun
Your child will pick up on your demeanor during brushing time. If you’re stressed, it will reflect on your little one. If you make it a fun and enjoyable time, the odds are your child will start relaxing and not resisting as much. You can always play a favorite song or create a game out of the process. The more upbeat you are and the more fun you incorporate in brushing time, the more successful and positive the process will be.
Switch to Sugar-Free Medication
If your child requires regular medication for a specific concern, check to see if it’s sugar-free. If not, talk to your child’s doctor about the possibility of switching to a sugar-free version, especially if it’s in syrup form. When you come to see us at Smile Explorers Pediatric Dentistry, let us know about any current medications so we can take them into account as we care for your child’s smile.
Choose a Dentist with Special Needs Dentistry Experience
At Smile Explorers Pediatric Dentistry, we want every child to have healthy teeth and happy smiles. Our pediatric dentists and the entire team have been specially trained to address the oral health needs of children with special needs. When you visit our Glendale office, we’ll review and discuss your child’s medical history, evaluate your little one’s unique needs, and determine the most effective preventive dental care and treatment program to maintain a healthy smile.
Our team will demonstrate the best brushing and flossing techniques and offer tips to overcome any challenges. We never spare any effort to ensure your child’s time at our office is as happy and free of stress as possible.
Preventive Special Needs Dentistry Near Me in Glendale, AZ
Visit Smile Explorers Pediatric Dentistry to learn more about caring for your child’s oral health. Our team is here to support you and provide the quality, compassionate special needs dental services your child deserves. You can count on us for the highest level of care. Call us and schedule your appointment today!