Children with Autism in the Dental Setting

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Pediatric Dentists see patients with all kinds of special needs, developmental conditions and disabilities. Autism is a relatively common condition affecting children throughout the country. Children with Autism usually present with a spectrum of disorders and often have difficulty communicating or interacting with others. Loud sounds, lights, smells and sometimes touching can overwhelm a patient with Autism. This presents a special challenge for dental treatment because pretty much anything about dentistry involves these things. Other than these sensitivities and the patient’s reaction to them, the dental problems are pretty much like every other patient. Special attention to oral hygiene is helpful along with a measured approach to dental examinations and cleanings. Of course, children with Autism need dental care just like every other child.

Treating patients with Autism can be a challenge for dental professionals. When fillings or other treatment is needed, sedative medications can often help patients more easily cope with the stimulus and stress of their environment during treatment. In a few cases where extensive procedures are required, general anesthesia might be considered. Each child is different. Treatment modalities for one may differ for the next. As patients with autism may present reactions and symptoms in varying degrees, many can be treated in a similar manner to other children. Most parents are well aware of their child’s conditions and limitations, and are usually very helpful when treatment is necessary.

 

Dr. Elan Kaufman
Kaufman Children’s Dental Hospital

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