Special Dentistry For Special Needs – Our Patients Say It Best!
When I graduated from residency at Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin, I had seen hundreds of children with special needs ranging from autism to Down Syndrome to CP to super rare disorders. I learned so much about the joys and challenges of parenting and loving on these kiddos. Working with children with special needs is one of my favorite parts of my job as a pediatric dentist. I embrace the challenge for parents and me to find the best techniques to make a patient most comfortable and open to dentistry, while building trust and making each patient feel valued.
These are my best tips for making our dental visits a success:
(1) Visit the pediatric dentist between age 1-2
-starting young familiarizes your child with our office, our team, and our routine. It is normal to take one or two appointments to feel at home. The repetition of visits that are based around counting, flossing, and brushing teeth build a solid foundation for less stressful appointments.
-we establish the best preventive habits early. It is more difficult to build a trusting patient-doctor relationship if your child already has cavities. Visit us when the first few teeth pop in so our team can give you all recommendations about brushing, flossing, diet, fluoride, breastfeeding, enamel quality, thumb/finger/pacifer habits, tongue/lip ties, etc. Bring a list of all your questions and concerns. We are here to help!
(2) Maintain proper schedule of 6 month care visits
-the more exposure your child has to us, the easier our appointments become. Further, this helps me keep an eye on areas of concern and give sound advice on combatting decay, decalcification, or alignment issues.
(3) Uphold strong oral hygiene and diet choices at home
-you only see me twice a year, so all the hard work really starts at home. Keeping your kids’ teeth brushed, flossed, and rinsed while limiting candies, gummies, and sugary beverages is no joke. Whew. Keep up the great work on the homefront.
(4) Prepare your child for his/her dental appointment
-some kids need reminders of what we do: count, floss, and brush teeth. Some kids prefer social stories and others like to read books or watch videos about the dentist. Use our Facebook page as a resource – we have videos to demo what we do and how we do it, or reach out to Dr. Keta with specific questions. You know your child better than we do, so your guidance helps build a framework of expectations. I prefer parents back in the operatories, so you are a consistent figure in oral care at home and in our office. You are my best ally for building your child up and establishing trust.
(5) Check your dental fear and anxiety at the door
-kids know when you are nervous. At Little Critter Pediatric Dentistry, we are reshaping dental experiences, so please speak kindly about the dentist :). Don’t use words like pain, hurt, needle, shot, pull teeth — we likely won’t have any of those concerns. I am here to build a happy, healthy dental home and provide exceptional patient care with compassion and kindness. We are on the same team and you have a voice in my office.
But don’t take it from me. Here is an insightful review from one mom’s blog who visited us at Little Critter Pediatric Dentistry. (You can view her article at Stay At Home Zoo Keeper here)