Whether it is your first time or tenth visit, going to the dentist can be scary for people of all ages and abilities. It is common, specifically, for individuals with disabilities to be apprehensive about going to the dentist. Recently, Dr. Tim Tikalsky, dentist at the Dentists on Bluemound, shared advice to help make the trip to the dentist a more favorable one. Not only is Dr. Tikalsky a fantastic dentist, but he is dad to four kids, one of whom has Down syndrome. You may know them as team “I Love Lucy” from the Zoo Walk!
Here are some of his tips for surviving and thriving in the dentist office:
Finding the Right Dental Office
Dr. Tikalsky recommends visiting and taking a tour of the dentist office before an appointment. Meet the dentist and the staff to see if this is the right dentist for your child! The individual with Down syndrome should also come along for the journey so they can familiarize themselves with the sights, sounds, and smells of the place.
It should be noted that a trip to the dentist office should not just be about making your child’s teeth clean and perfect, but also about the overall experience.
Don’t be afraid to let the dental office know about your child’s specific sensory preferences. Some dental offices have sensory questionnaires, which asks a series of questions about your child’s taste, positioning, visual, noise, reward preferences, and more. This will allow for the dental providers to be prepared to provide a comfortable experience for your child.
Take advantage of children’s books and videos revolving around the first trip to the dentist. These tools help teach children about the dentist, including the procedures and equipment involved.
Practice, Practice, Practice!
Many children are intimidated with lying back at the dental office for a cleaning or examination. Because of this, it may be an effective strategy for your child to practice lying down at home to become more comfortable with this type of position. Additionally, practicing dental care while they are in this position, such as brushing their teeth or flossing, can help make the first visit less scary.
Role-playing is also a great way to prepare your child for their trip, and will help make the experience fun. Pretend to be the dentist, and walk through what will happen with your child.
A special thank you Dr. Kevin Race of Race Orthodontics and Dr. Angela Trochell of Fun Kids Dentist for their insight and expertise on this topic!