Children with special needs sometimes require a bit of extra support carrying out essential everyday tasks. Because many developmental issues can have an impact on oral health, it’s crucial for parents to instill proper dental care habits in their kids. Here are three tips to help you teach your child.
How to Help Special Needs Children Embrace Dental Care
1. Make Brushing Fun
Toothbrushing can be an uncomfortable experience for a special needs child, especially if they deal with sensory processing challenges. The feel of the brush head against the teeth and gums, the distinctive taste and texture of the toothpaste, and the movement of the brush can all be unsettling.
For this reason, it helps to make brushing more pleasurable. Play music your child likes while they brush, make up a special toothbrushing dance routine, or brush your teeth together to see who can get their smile the brightest. Next time you’re at the dentist’s office or grocery store, let your little one pick out their own brush.
2. Demonstrate Correct Technique
A special needs child may put up some resistance to having you poke around inside their mouth to show them how to brush. Start by demonstrating on a favorite stuffed animal or doll instead.
Move a dry toothbrush up and down and back and forth over the toy's mouth area to illustrate how to move the brush. Pull off a small length of floss, show how to wrap it around the fingers, and imitate moving the floss between the toy's "teeth." Having a favorite stuffed toy nearby can also be a comfort if the child is at all scared or hesitant about brushing.
3. Be Consistent
Many special needs kids thrive on routine. Set aside certain times of the morning and evening and designate them toothbrushing times. Schedule them around regular activities your child enjoys so they’ll be more apt to remember, such as before watching morning cartoons or right before a bedtime story at night. Don't skip brushing, even if the routine is thrown off in any way; otherwise, you're underscoring the importance of regular daily brushing.
Routine visits to the dentist's office are crucial for your child's oral health. Lowitz & Meier treats patients of all ages in the Cincinnati, OH, area. They offer comprehensive dental care services, from preventative exams, sealants, and fillings to more advanced needs. Schedule an appointment by calling (513) 521-8900 or visit them online to learn more about their services.