My 11-year-old developmentally disabled daughter has a dental visit in two months. She is non-verbal, but she understands more than some people think. I know she needs sedation at the dentist, but this is a new dentist.
We had a consultation with her last month. How can I prepare for her appointment to help it go smoothly? Thank you. Svetlana
Thank you for your question. It is wise to prepare for a dental appointment whenever a patient has anxiety. You probably discussed your daughter’s sedation needs with the dentist during your consultation. If not, don’t hesitate to contact the dental office to make arrangements.
How Can You Prepare a Developmentally Disabled Child for a Dental Visit?
You can prepare a developmentally disabled child for a dental visit with these steps:
- Maintain clear communication with the dental team.
- Provide a list of your child’s medication.
- Tell the dental team how they can prepare, such as whether your child will arrive in a wheelchair or need transfer assistance.
- Inform the office of whether a caregiver will be accompanying you and the child
Your dental team can plan to accommodate your child’s needs and keep them comfortable.
Talk to Your Child About the Upcoming Dental Visit
Talk to your child about the upcoming dental visit using language that is easy to understand.
- Show them photos or videos of happy patients during a dental visit.
- Try practicing the appointment in a reclining chair, if possible, to mimic a dental visit.
- Visit the office a few days before the appointment to refamiliarize your child with the environment.
Bring Comfort Items from Home
A toy, stuffed animal, or blanket may put your child at ease during a dental visit. Headphones with music soothe some patients.
Use the appointment as a learning experience to ensure you choose the best time of day for your child based on their personality and mood. Adjust your approach as needed for the next appointment. Maintain open communication with your child’s dental team. Many established dental offices understand how to accommodate developmentally disabled children and will ensure your child has positive dental experiences.
Visit the Developmental Disabilities & Oral Health page on the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research website for other considerations before your child’s dental visit.