Dental Care Tips for Kids on the Spectrum

Autism can make it difficult for a child to practice good oral health, and can complicate things like routine dental visits.

Autism Speaks, in collaboration with Colgate and Philips-Sonicare, offers a dental guide and video with tips for improving oral hygiene at home as well as information on how to make a visit to the dentist’s office less stressful and more productive.

The first four tips are outlined below. For more information and resources visit Autism Speaks.

  1. Find a toothpaste and toothbrush that works for your child. Toothbrushes come in all shapes, sizes and colors – let your child pick out their toothbrush but make sure it has soft bristles. Toothpaste comes in different flavors and styles – it’s important to find a flavor your child likes, and remember to use a pea-sized amount of toothpaste placed in the center of the bristles.
  2. Model proper brushing technique. To help your child learn proper brushing technique, stand behind your child with his or her head against your chest. Gently move the toothbrush back and forth five times just as you would when brushing your own teeth.
  3. Find the right dental office for your child. When looking for a dental professional, ask if the dentist has a questionnaire about your child’s health and habits you can complete and return before your visit. Also ask if they have pictures of the office you can share with your child before your visit.

Simulate a dental visit at home. Prepare your child for a visit to the dentist at home with activities like reclining in a chair, and practicing how long and how wide they can hold their mouth open. You can also practice calming techniques like counting to 10 with hands folded while reclining in the chair.

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