9. Visual: There is a lot going on at the dentist's office -- bright lights and people moving around with strange shiny instruments. If you do not have a DVD player or DS for your child to watch, bring dark sunglasses so that when the dentist uses that spot light on your kid's teeth, it doesn't send him into meltdown!
10. The chair: The dentist's chair is not exactly relaxing -- our kids are too small for it often times, and it moves. I know the dentist wants to pretend that is like a 'ride' at an amusement park, but really, it is just strange. You can prepare your child for this unusual chair or ask the dentist to do the exam in a stationery chair.
I also think that having a good dentist that understands your child’s needs is hugely important. Ask around and find a children’s dentist that specializes in kids with autism and sensory issues. They will be more familiar with what is going on with your child, more flexible with your need to use supports and even can offer new and fresh ideas that are more clinical than these (like sedation dentistry).
I personally hate the dentist, so another suggestion I have, is to bring back up. If your child has to have dental work done other than a check up, bringing your spouse or another adult can be very helpful. Recently, Gabe had two teeth pulled and it was just as bad on me as it was on him. Thankfully, Jeff was there to support both of us. It helped me keep my anxiety and stress under wraps, which helped keep things calm for Gabe.
Going to the dentist is hard for our kids, but the best time to get them used to something new is when they are young. Trying to help them establish good habits is important -- even if you hate the dentist like I do.
If you have any great ideas -- tricks or tips -- please share them!
Photo: Gabriel at his first dentist appointment at age 3 -- don't you love the glasses?