Contribution from freelance writer Lucy Wyndham
Every once in a while, the Leka Team is happy to welcome external contributors and share their food for thoughts. This post has been written by Lucy Wyndham whose husband is on the spectrum.
If you have a child with autism, it’s likely that keeping his teeth clean can be a challenge primarily due to communication problems. In a study, it was found that 15.1% of children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) have unmet dental needs. It was also revealed that children with ASD with communication or behavioral difficulties had greater odds of unmet dental need than those with ASD without these characteristics. Because good oral hygiene is an important component of healthy living, parents should find solutions to help their child care for his or her teeth.
Make brushing fun
Brushing can be more fun for your child if you play his favorite song or video on your phone or tablet while he’s doing it. You can also use Leka as a timer to make sure that your child brushes his teeth for a full two minutes. Making brushing a more pleasant activity can help to make it a lifelong habit for your child.
Pick the right toothbrush
Young children with autism may find that the bristles on some toothbrushes can be too hard, so find a toothbrush with soft bristles. If your child needs help holding his toothbrush, you can insert the handle into a bicycle handlebar grip to enlarge the toothbrush handle and make it easier for your child to hold.
Allow your child to have a selection of toothpaste flavors and toothbrushes to choose from. Giving your child control over the things that he’ll use for cleaning his teeth will make him feel better about brushing.
Let your child mimic you
One of the simplest ways to get your child to brush his teeth properly is to have him mimic you. As you brush alongside your child, make sure that you practice good brushing techniques and go through each motion step-by-step so your child can follow along.
How to prepare your child for their 1st visit to the dentist’s
Apart from teaching a child the right way to care for his teeth, it’s also crucial to prepare your child for a dental visit. For some children with autism, a visual guide to let them know what will happen during the visit may help to lessen anxiety or fear. You can buy a small dental mirror and a flashlight at the drugstore and demonstrate how a dentist will examine his teeth. You can also have him practice spitting water at the sink and holding his mouth open.
Another way to prepare your child for his visit is to read him a story about going to the dentist. You should also speak with your dentist before the appointment and let him or her know about any challenges that may arise during your child’s visit.