child with special needs near Cleveland cuddles with caregiver during desensitization visit as one of 4 ways to help children with special needs enjoy dental visits

4 Ways to Help Children with Special Needs Overcome Dental Anxiety

Children’s Special Needs Dentist Near Cleveland

All children require experienced care when visiting the dentist. Many children (and adults!) have anxiety about seeing the dentist. For those with emotional, cognitive, developmental and/or physical impairments, a trip to the dentist can seem downright terrifying!  Such patients need dentists and team members who can compassionately meet their unique needs. Drs. Rachel Rosen, Laura Adelman, and Danielle Richman love being a children’s special need dentist near Cleveland. Below they share 4 ways they help children with special needs overcome dental anxiety, so they can enjoy dental visits.

4 Ways to Help Children with Special Needs Enjoy Dental Visits

Children with special health care needs deserve what all children do– a bright, healthy smile!  You may ask yourself, “Is there a children’s special needs dentist near me, like this?” Great Beginnings Pediatric Dentistry is just that! Whether your child has been diagnosed with autism, sensory sensitivities, anxiety disorders, down syndrome, or developmental delays, our team is here to support their oral health! We understand that each child has a unique adjustment period to new surroundings and stimuli.  Likewise, some may have difficulty with the different sights, sounds, textures, and people they may encounter during a dental appointment. Our team members have found the following 4 techniques extremely helpful in helping children with special needs enjoy successful dental visits.

1. We Communicate BEFORE the Visit

As the parent, you are the expert on your child’s physical and emotional support needs.  That’s why we’ll communicate with you before the first visit to determine the best steps to take.  We encourage our parents to call our office and discuss the special concerns and needs they may have, so we can make the best plan together.

  • Smart Scheduling :Some children are helped by scheduling early in the morning.  Likewise, scheduling on days that are less busy than others helps ensure a less overwhelming experience.
  • Pre-Visit Office Tour | Desentization Visits: We welcome pre-visit office tours and desensitization visits periodically to help your child view Great Beginnings Pediatric Dentistry as a familiar, friendly place that does not need to be feared.
  • Oline Office Story Board Materials: We encourage caregivers to use our online picture gallery before any in-person visits to give them a preview of what to expect. Of course, these can be printed out and used during the visit to help your child track where in the visit they are in a normal sequence of events.

2. We Communicate Throughout the Visit

As soon as you check your child in, our team members will communicate with you and your child in a compassionate manner. We strive to help you and your child feel at ease on appointment day in the following ways:

4 ways to help children with special needs enjoy dental visits

3. We’ll Provide a Consistent Contact Person the Day of Their Visit

Transitions for all kids are difficult! To help reduce the types of transitions your child has to make during a visit, we’ll have one team member come greet the child, take x-rays, perform the cleanings, and be present during the doctor exam. The child will have comfort with one, increasingly familiar face being by their side, and caregivers will know whom to approach should they have a question.

4. All Team Members Will Communicate Appropriately

    Our team members are trained in giving clear, simple instructions so children know how they can help the visit move quickly and smoothly.  Our team members share what to expect: textures, tastes, amount of time, etc.  In addition, we Tell, Show, then Do. The goal is to minimize any unpleasant surprises for the child. Additionally, gbpd team members use age-appropriate and needs-appropriate language to minimize fear without being dishonest or misleading.

    5. We’ll Give Positive Feedback

    We understand that sometimes a kind word help more than 100 clear instructions! Our team members give encouraging, positive feedback to empower your child’s sense of self while in our care.  We believe there is always a positive to be shared! In addition, all visits end on a positive note with a trip to our toy tower!

    3. We Offer Additional Comforts During Visits

    50557935 1761095033996114 7056743756816449536 o

    In addition to our exceptionally trained doctors and team members, we have some little extra comforts that can help. Below lists a few of our options.

    • WEIGHTED BLANKETS: Many children find comfort and relaxation under the weight of a cuddly weighted blanket.
    • INDIVIDUAL MOVIE SCREENS: Sometimes a favorite movie provides a child with the right comfort and distraction needed. EAch of our hygiene and treatment chairs has its own screen, so each child can pick his/her movie from Disney Plus.
    • BRING-A-FRIEND POLICY: A favorite, trusted stuffed animal or toy (or blanket!) is always welcome to accompany your child during all parts of their dental visits at Great Beginnings Pediatric Dentistry.

      4. Sedation Dentistry is Available When Needed

      Even with all the best preparations, some children with special health care needs still may find the traditional dental visit too stimulating or stressful to continue.  In these cases, rest assured we understand.  We can still help!  We offer two different levels of sedation dentistry for kids:

      1. Mild Sedation Dentistry: With this level of sedation, your child stays fully awake.  However, the use of nitrous oxide (commonly knowns as laughing gas) helps calm their system, so they can relax and follow directions. For many children, this gentle form of sedation dentistry is all they need to take the edge off of their fear and anxiety.
      2. IV Sedation Dentistry: With this level of sedation, your child is asleep during the procedure. Unlike many larger clinics, we provide sedation dentistry in our regular office. This location reduces anxiety because it’s familiar to your child.

      Children’s Special Needs Dentist Near Cleveland Accepting New Patients

      Drs. Rachel, Laura, and Danielle would love to see if Great Beginnings Pediatric Dentistry is the right fit for your child with special health care needs. Feel free to call our office at 330-425-1885 to discuss your child’s unique needs.  Our team members will be happy to help you schedule a pre-visit tour of our office and discuss the special mix of support and fun we offer out patients.

      We are accepting new patients aged 16 years and younger at GBPD.

      Our skilled pediatric dentists see children, regardless of their special abilities, at first tooth through age 21 for a continuity of care that sets them up for a lifetime of healthy smiles.  When it’s time for your child to transition to a family dentist, we will work closely with you to help you find the right fit. Dental anxiety can affect any of us, and children with special needs are no different. These 4 ways to help children with special needs overcome dental anxiety only begin to describe the individualized support we offer our patients and their families. We look forward to partnering with you to help your child enjoy optimal oral and overall health!

      This blog is for informational purposes only. It is not intended as medical advice. Only your child’s dentist and pediatrician can offer you guidance with what is best for your child’s unique circumstances.
      Scroll to Top