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Does Your Special Needs Child with Autism Need a Pediatric Dentist?

Are you a parent with a special needs child on the autism spectrum?

Special Needs Dentistry | Autism, Pediatric Dental Care

Are you a parent with a special needs child on the autism spectrum? Did you know a visit to the dentist can be an excellent experience? Learn more from The Smile Generation®-trusted dentist, Dr. Jacob Dent of Sugar Land Modern Dentistry and Orthodontics.

A Dental Visit Guide for Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder

The Smile Generation®-trusted dentists know the facts and realize that many families need a great dentist for their special needs child. My son is autistic, and I realize the inherent difficulties that can arise when your child faces unfamiliar and often intimidating situations. These young patients can be non-verbal, non-compliant, have severe stimulation issues, mild to severe behavioral problems, and delays with fine motor skills. As a result, they cannot practice proper oral hygiene at home-dentists who treat these children and alleviate parental concerns find the experience incredibly humbling and gratifying. In March 2014, the CDC published the following: About 1 in 54 children has been identified with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) according to estimates from CDC's Autism and Developmental Disabilities Monitoring (ADDM) Network. In the past ten years, this accounts for a 110% increase. Further, boys are three times more likely to be diagnosed than girls. Autistic children as dental patients present both rewards and challenges for their dentists.

data and statistics on prevalence of autism spectrum disorder

This image appears courtesy of Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Preparing for a Dental Visit with Your Autistic Child

The dentist must know how best to approach and treat any special needs patient who sees them. You can obtain this information through a simple patient questionnaire designed specifically for patients with special needs. This document's content includes:

  1. Health histories.
  2. Current medicines.
  3. Home care routines.
  4. A patient's ability to cope with specific procedures performed during an initial dental visit.
  5. Any concerns the family may have.

If a pediatric dentist does not have such a questionnaire available, it would be wise for any parent to create such a document to provide the dentist. Every little bit of knowledge helps create a better experience! Sometimes, a first-time visit to the dentist may be limited to a simple walk-through of the dental office. Parents should try setting up regular dental visits with increasing stimuli, interactions, and experiences. Doing so helps your autistic child adjust to the often intimidating dental environment at their own pace. Autistic children tend to do better around a structured schedule, which makes this critical. A special needs child should also try to get to know the dentist and establish a comfortable rapport needed to build trust. Regular dental visits are also the best opportunity for parents to discuss any of their concerns or fears with the dentist. We, dentists, realize that the patient's parents are the child's most prominent advocates; we will learn much by listening to you!

Helping Your Special Needs Child Overcome Their Fear of Going to the Dentist

The dentist will attempt to complete a full dental exam up to the level that the child will allow. Sometimes, this may mean just a simple visual exam. Other procedures like Digital X-rays, fillings and even a basic dental cleaning may have to be done with sedation if the special needs patient requires it. Once the dentist can perform a comprehensive evaluation, they will work with you to establish a home care routine for your child. Why is this important? Many special needs patients are prone to dental decay because of home care and diet difficulties. Your full participation as parents helps build a foundation for your child's healthy, happy smile for life!

Find A Local Smile Generation® Pediatric Dentist Who Treats Kids With ASD

As John Maxwell wisely said, People, don't care how much you know until they know how much you care. I know from experience that treating autistic children requires patience and understanding. One of the most complex challenges for families dealing with autism is finding a dentist who understands their child's needs, concerns, and fears. The Smile Generation®-trusted dentists advocate for children with special needs. We know your child means the world to you, and we'll do our best to treat them as one of our very own!


Finding a trusted, local Pediatric Dentist for your child is easy. At Smile Generation®, you can find skilled Pediatric Dentists near you, read staff profiles, browse patient reviews, and schedule your child's first appointment online in minutes. Click here to get started