My youngest daughter is three years old and autistic. I am looking for a new pediatric dentist for her because the last dentist she saw did not work well with her. My daughter dislikes change, so going to a new dental office will be traumatic.
One of my concerns is that the previous dentist would not allow me to come into the treatment room with my daughter. They said that children seem to look at their parents and play off the parents’ anxiety, which makes treatment more difficult. That approach did not work well for my daughter, so I decided to find a new dentist for her. How can I find a dentist to respect the fact that I know my daughter’s behavioral patterns? Thank you. Kristin
Thank you for your question. We understand our concerns about your daughter’s comfort during dental visits. Her memories of dental visits impact how she will feel about going to the dentist as she ages.
Can You Accompany Your Child to the Treatment Room?
Many dental practices prefer that parents not accompany their child in the treatment room (operatory). Some dental professionals choose to build rapport and trust with the children without a parent present. They also find that many children are more relaxed without their parents present, particularly if the parent has dental anxieties.
Still, each child is different, and you understand your daughter’s needs. You can look for a few pediatric dental offices or offices that offer dental services for the entire family. Below are a few tips to consider when you call the offices:
- Ask about the dental practice’s policy for parents accompanying children in the treatment area.
- Explain that your daughter is autistic and why, at least for the first visit, you would want to accompany her.
- Try to discern if the dental team hesitates about honoring your request.
- Schedule a consultation with the dentist before scheduling your daughter’s exam
Sedation Dentistry Can Help
Although you will find a dental practice to accommodate you and your daughter, she may still struggle during an appointment. Speak with the dentist about light sedation to help your daughter relax before the visit. Dental offices that willingly work with patients’ needs are used to it and find ways to make their patients comfortable.
Monroe, Louisiana, dentist Dr. David Finley sponsors this post. Dr. Finley is a Fellow of the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry and the Academy of General Dentistry.