Kids with Sensory Disorders

At Smiles For Kids we know that each and every child comes with his or her set of challenges. We love all of the kiddos and customize our dental care specifically to individual needs. Perhaps the ones that we spend the most time and energy with are the kids with sensory challenges such as PDD or Autism Spectrum Disorders. Through continuing education, research, talking to parents of our patients, and years of experience we have developed a program that works beautifully for most patients in our office.

Most children with sensory disorders need extra time, slow and patient explanation of what will be done, and short appointment times. Our philosophy is to slowly but surely lead them through as many appointments as it takes to accomplish our goals. We do not charge for multiple appointments, just for the tasks accomplished. If it takes us 5 appointments to get teeth cleaning done we charge only for one cleaning, not for each appointment. We do realize that parents are already paying the price of time having multiple appointments, but we find this approach rewarding, successful, and worth every minute of our time as well as parents’ time.

Our initial appointment with kids who need extra time involves detailed interview with parents about more than just the medical history. We talk about specifics such as habits, likes, dislikes, behaviors, triggers as well as previous dental and medical experiences. We let the kids play and get familiar with our office. They roam our reception area, hang out in our New Patient room where we talk to the parents, or play in the open bay hygiene area. We encourage them to play as much as possible and try out any piece of equipment they would like to touch, sit on, or play with. Often this is all we accomplish during these initial appointments and we do not force more because we want to build a friendly relationship. We encourage parents to bring kids in just to play in our reception area between appointments if they feel that would help.

On subsequent appointments we have few things to accomplish (cleaning, exam and x-rays) and take as many tries as necessary. We have a Social Story with pictures of each piece of equipment, how it works, and what it does that we show our patients before using anything. During some appointments all we accomplish is having a child sit in our dental chair. Over time we are able to get full dental cleaning, radiographs, and exam done in small increments. Mrs. Yvette is a constant source of information and always stays with our little ones who need consistency and gradual introduction to the world of dentistry. The rest of the team comes in to do our respective jobs through her leadership and judgement of when the patient is ready for the hygienist, assistant or a doctor.

Our success in treating kids with sensory disorders has been tremendous once we implemented our approach of letting the kids’ comfort level lead us with gentle introduction to a new task each time. We discuss with parents at the beginning of each appointment the goals we want to achieve on that particular day and what cues we need to pick up on from the kids to stop. Usually, once we go through the first round of several appointments, for the next six-month checkup the kids are doing great as they have gained confidence and we have gained their trust!

Please call us for more information!