Dr. Michelle Stafford of World Of Smiles Pediatric Dentistry in Portland, OR explains the special accommodations for patients under 3 and those with special needs.
We have a new video on our Youtube channel of Dr. Stafford talking to Don Hanson about his iOS app called Let’s Go Places. This is an intuitive social modeling app for all children learning what to expect for common trips around the neighborhood.
As April concludes, we wanted to call attention to the fact that this has been National Autism Awareness Month. With so many wonderful causes in the world and so few months, many of these causes can get lost in the shuffle. Below we present some tips for having successful outcomes when selecting and visiting a dentist with a child on the spectrum.
Your child has a set of flip cards to help him with his daily schedule; one difference in his day, and the world can seem to end. Or perhaps your child has a debilitating fear of change and new experiences. Going to a new toy store or grocery store can be a challenge, not to mention coming to a medical facility. What can you do?
1. Create a special flip card that shows a toothbrush & floss. Teach your child that they will see this card in the morning, and at night. Introducing dental instruments from an early age will help them as they associate being healthy with a clean mouth. When it’s time to visit the dentist, introduce a special flip card that shows a dentist (or maybe a picture of your new dental office) and is placed in their flip schedule at the appropriate time.
2. Communicate with your healthcare providers. Many pediatricians and pediatric dentists have had extensive training and understand the unique needs of children with Autism, Down Syndrome, and other diagnosis’. Their staff is generally well-trained and experienced as well – but they need communication from you ahead of time of your expectations. Let the scheduling desk know the diagnosis your child has so that they can plan appropriate time for their providers to meet with you.
3. Keep an open mind! Understand that each provider is different – and will approach your child with the techniques and tools that they have found work best with other children who have similar needs. If you or your child had a negative experience at another office, try not to carry that same expectation over into your new dental or pediatric home.
4. Acclimate, Acclimate, Acclimate. Many children, even those without specific diagnosis’ or challenges, need to have new experiences explained to them first in order to have the best experience possible. Small children are used to seeing and learning new things daily, but what teachers and childcare providers know is that preparation can be a key difference in whether a child accepts new information or a new experience with enthusiasm or fear. For children who have sensory challenges, this is even more so the case. What we have found is that by having several acclimation visits before a new patient exam, a child with Autism or sensory disorder can accomplish much more than they or their parents ever thought possible. Find out if you can take a tour, or play in the playroom. Ask if your child can simply sit in the exam chair, and then pick a toy and go home. Come back a second or third time and then complete the full exam – and I bet you’ll be surprised!
5. Don’t give up hope. It is a daily struggle for many parents – we understand that. While we cannot share from personal experience, we witness and share in the hurt and frustration. As healthcare providers, we work to support research and we try to find new ideas to help our patients. We want the best for your child, and for your family, and we commit to working alongside our families toward a better tomorrow. Never surrender hope!
Coming up at the end of October, we begin our annual candy exchange! After you enjoy the traditional acquisition of sugary treats, bring the loot into our office to be exchanged for prizes. The candy that you bring in will be sent over seas for our troops through Operation Gratitude. This is great way to enjoy the holiday without all those peky sugar bugs!
At World of Smiles, Pediatric Dentistry we are fortunate to work with families that have a wide range of needs. For our patients with special needs, including Autism, Downs Syndrome, and ADHD, we have developed an Acclimation Program. Many children (including patients diagnosed with high anxiety) benefit from a graduated introduction into dentistry, particularly if it is their first experience at the dental office. For more information on why a pediatric dental home may be the best choice for your special need child, click here!
Take a peek at what we have developed for our new Acclimation Program, and how it might benefit your child with special needs or high anxiety. Be sure to leave your comments on what you like, and what you’d like to see added!
Dr. Staci Whitman and Dr. Michelle Stafford worked for nearly two years to bring World Of Smiles to North Portland. They seek to partner with families to provide education and motivation for healthy dental habits. The practice strives for excellent patient care with a holistic, integrative approach while offering innovative treatment options. Both Docs enjoy teaching families and other healthcare professionals the importance of prevention and laying a foundation of healthy dental practices from a young age. They advocate for infant and child oral health, have had extensive experience with patients of special needs, and are Board Certified Pediatric Dentists. Learn more about who your family will partner with at your next visit!