Every child is different. Special needs kids require extra attention and care. Here are some ways to introduce good dental hygiene:
Introduce the Toothbrush Early
Getting your child used to a toothbrush even before their first tooth can save you some grief. Let them play with it, and put it into their mouth. This will get them used to the feel of the bristles in their mouth. Even if you didn’t introduce your child to the toothbrush early on, it isn’t too late. Allow your special needs child to play with the toothbrush. Encourage them to put it in their mouth. Let them experience the new sensation at their own pace. Let them pick out their own toothbrush. This might be the push that they need to get them started in the right direction.
Demonstrate Oral Hygiene
Let your child watch you brushing your teeth. Demonstrate to them that it is not something to fear. If you have other children in the family, get them involved. Sometimes kids learn better by watching other children. Show your child that brushing your teeth is fun. Take them into the bathroom with you every time that you brush your teeth. This will get them used to the routine. You want them to get comfortable with watching you. Take your child to the dentist with you. Let them watch while you have your teeth cleaned.
Take the Process Slow
Once your child is used to watching you brush your teeth, introduce them to the process. Ask them if they want to brush their teeth. You might need to help them in the beginning. This process can start by brushing their lips. Then encourage them to open their mouth. Start out using water. The sensation of toothpaste might be too much to handle. Slowly brush their teeth, or allow them to brush their teeth. You want to encourage them the entire time. Praise them excessively. You want them to have positive emotions associated with the experience. It may take several days before you can introduce toothpaste.
Find a Specialized Dentist
Choose a dentist that has experience working with people who have special needs. You might even need to use a dentist, like those at Sedation Dentistry Center, that does sedation and/or is experienced with working with special needs individuals. This can ease the stress of the situation. Make sure to do your research, and select a dentist that has a good safety record. It is important to receive good dental care. Your child is likely afraid, and may struggle during an exam. This can lead to a bad experience. It can set them back when it comes to their dental hygiene. Having a dentist that can understand the needs of their patients can diffuse the situation. This will make those dental visits less stressful for the whole family.
A healthy mouth is important for everyone. Use these ideas to introduce good dental hygiene to your special needs child.