Last updated on Jul 7th, 2020 at 02:25 pm

Caring for someone with special needs takes compassion and understanding and there is a dentist out there who can provide you with just that, so never give up on your search…

Going to the dentist for the first time can be overwhelming for anybody. However, when someone has special needs, it can make the experience more difficult.

Going to the dentist can cause severe anxiety, making patients with special needs reluctant to receive care. I have been practising dentistry for more than 17 years and can tell you that the best way to help your child have a great dental experience is by finding the perfect dentist. This may seem like an intimidating process, but here’s a list of the best ways to help you find a great dental office.

1. Referral services

Referral services may be available to you to find recommendations for dentists near you. Try reaching out to the South African Dental Association. They work with many dentists throughout South Africa and can help get you started with informational resources on special needs dentistry, dental conditions, and more.

Another great way to begin searching for the perfect dentist is by speaking with your primary healthcare provider. They already know you and your loved one well and may know of a dentist that will fit your family’s needs.

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2. Ask questions

As you’re searching for the right dentist for your special needs child, it’s important to ask questions. Your child’s health is the number one priority, so you’ll want to find someone who is the perfect fit. Getting answers to your questions is the only way you’ll know if the dentist will be a good match. Here are some questions to ask prospective dentists:

Are you comfortable working with a patient with additional needs?

The dentist you choose should be comfortable caring for patients that have additional needs. Start by talking to pediatric dentists in your area. After dental school, pediatric dentists receive two to three years of extra schooling. They are better equipped to accommodate a patient with special needs and have experience doing so.

Your child’s health is the number one priority, so you’ll want to find someone who is the perfect fit

Can you make any special accommodations during the appointment?

Each patient is unique in their needs, and your loved one may need to have certain accommodations made to ensure their comfort at the dentist office. It’s important that these needs can be met, whatever they may be. Some common accommodations that dentists make are using specific toothpaste flavours, reducing waiting-room times, and having the dental chair remain in the same position the entire visit. These may seem small but can make all the difference in assuring the comfort of the patient.

No question is a bad one and you will feel more confident choosing a dentist who can answer any and all questions.

3. Never give up

Finally, as you continue your search for a dentist, it’s important to never give up. Finding the right dentist may be challenging, but always keep searching. It can be a trial and error process and that’s okay. Keep your search going until you find someone who is just right. Dental care is extremely important to one’s overall health and well-being; never forget that. Always keep your loved one’s needs in mind when searching for a dentist and the right one will come along.

The dentist’s office can be an overwhelming place, especially for the very first time. For children and patients with special needs, they may suffer from severe anxiety that causes them to refuse to receive dental care. However, dental care is extremely important and there are dentists available that are committed to making dental visits positive.

Caring for someone with special needs takes compassion and understanding and there is a dentist out there who can provide you with just that, so never give up on your search.

Article by Dr. Greg Grillo (dentably.com)

References:

American Dental Association – https://www.mouthhealthy.org/en/az-topics/s/special-needs

Colgate – https://www.colgate.com/en-us/oral-health/conditions/developmental-disabilities/dental-health-care-for-children-with-special-needs-0414

Emergency Dentists USA – https://www.emergencydentistsusa.com/autism-and-dental-care/

Doctorly.Org – //doctorly.org/how-to-become-a-pediatric-dentist/

South African Dental Association – https://www.sada.co.za/

Very Well Health – https://www.verywellhealth.com/dentist-tips-for-autistic-child-260373