Dental health is essential for any growing child. However, for children with autism, it can be an extra challenge. Children, in general, are not easy to tame. They protest when it’s dinner time, they would rather play than wash their hands—and they overall make your life “harder.” That’s why it’s hard to instill personal hygiene habits, even more so in children with autism who suffer from sensory sensitivities. Any youth with autism spectrum disorder will have a hard time opening their mouth, let alone brush their teeth or visit the dentist.
As a parent, you need to take care of your children’s teeth, so they don’t develop serious issues later on. Dentists advise you to start brushing your child’s teeth from the very first tooth, but with an autistic kid, it can take longer to adapt to routine. Many autism experts can help your child learn about self-care, but you can use many helpful strategies at home.
You should know that children with autism do not refuse to brush their teeth because they are ignorant. They simply can’t process the sensory information around them. Most autistic children dislike sensory stimulants such as sound, taste, touch, and smell. Brushing teeth is a sensory experience—and an actual anxiety trigger. The sensation can be uncomfortable due to the bristles or the flavor of the toothpaste. That’s why children with autism would rather avoid brushing their teeth altogether.
You can categorize these sensory issues into hyposensitivity or hypersensitivity. Hyposensitivity refers to the limited sensations or numbness in the oral region, which usually causes anxiety about the brushing process. Hypersensitivity refers to the heightened awareness of anything entering the mouth.
We’re here to help you. In this tag, you will find valuable resources to deal with dental hygiene and instill healthy habits in your little one. Also, with our tips, you can make a dentist visit a breeze.