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How to shift dental 'a-pain-ments' to dental appointments

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How to shift dental 'a-pain-ments' to dental appointments

After having a bad experience years ago, I feel tense and stressed whenever I need to see the dentist. Logically, I know I will be fine but that is not how my body and mind reacts.

Kids with sensory issues do not know they will be fine. Actually, because they have sensory issues, the chances are good there will be unpleasantness/pain during the visit. However, dental visits are still necessary.

Today, I give you four checklists: One from a dentist, one for a dentist, what to do before the visit, and what to do during the visit.

Please forward this to anyone you know who might benefit from any of these lists. Thanks.

You don't have to brush ALL your teeth, just the ones you want to keep.

What do you call a bear with no teeth? A gummy bear!

Action Ideas so dental appointments will make you smile

Advice to Parents for Dental Appointments by Dr. Salina Tromposch
     1) Start dental visits as young as possible to allow an emphasis on preventive vs corrective treatment.
     2) Book the appointment for success.  Choose the best time of day for your child.  Make sure they are well fed and well rested.  If your child tends to worry, do not remind them of the appointment until day of.
     3) To prepare your child for their dental visit, answer all of THEIR questions.  Be careful not to give too much information that may cause anxiety and apprehension (eg. the needle won't hurt).
     4) Inform the staff of any specific issues that could help the appointment go more smoothly
(eg. child does not like to be touched).
     5) Allow the dental staff to develop a personal one-on-one working relationship with your child.  Remain a supportive/passive observer in the treatment room, unless asked to take a more active role.
     6) Acknowledge the accomplishments at each appointment.  Treatment will be driven by each child's needs and successes celebrated by all.
Information for a dentist (given by the parent and to be personalized by parent)
Some people in general and children in particular have heightened sensory experiences.

Below are two lists.
In the first one, I’ve checked off the ones that apply to my child.
The second list has suggestions to make the appointment run as smoothly as possible.

My child has these sensitivities:
     Tactile system (touch)
     Vestibular system (sense of movement in relation to gravity)
     Auditory system (sound)
     Visual system (sight)
     Proprioceptive system (position of our body parts, joints, and muscles, as well as the amount of force being used with movement)
     Gustatory system (taste & texture in mouth)
     Olfactory system (smell)
     Inner senses (hunger, elimination, etc.)

There are actions that happen during a dental visit that are not pleasant for him/her but by sharing this information with you, we can increase our likelihood of success.
     1) Please explain the general procedure. If during the talk, there are other sounds, such as another client in the space next door, beeping of a machine, also acknowledge it, especially if it will be part of this appointment.

     2) Explain what you will be doing prior to doing it. Unanticipated touch, particularly touch to the face, can cause my child to pull away. Do not use light touches to the skin at any time.

     3) If something will be unpleasant for specific period of time, share that. For example,if there will be pain, “This will last for the count of 3. 3…2...1.... Breathe deep. It will begin to get better now.” Or, “The unpleasant part will take about three minutes. Watch the clock to let you know when you are almost done.” (For this, you, the parent, will bring a visual timer.) Always overestimate the time slightly and always break down the unpleasant parts to only a few minutes.

     4) Let the child know that if he/she needs a break, all he/she needs to do is raise his/her hand or squeeze a noise maker several times. Giving my child control not only will let you know when he/she is experiencing problems, he/she can also handle more, knowing he/she is in control.

     5) Be patient during cleaning. The combination of pressure, texture, sound, smell, and taste can be unpleasant and overwhelming.

     6) Explain when you will be putting the chair back and upright, and do it slowly. Changes in gravity can be fear-producing.

     7) Forewarn when the bright light will be used.

     8) Be patient. He/she has an over-reactive gag reflex.

     9) During the process, headphones will be worn. If you need to talk, please squeeze his/her shoulder to indicate the need to talk.
     10) The texture and the smell of the glove materials may be unpleasant. Only touch when necessary.

     11) Using the x-ray apron for the entire visit will help calm.

     12) Depending on how it is going and the procedure, it might be worthwhile to have a short break in the middle.

Dealing with each sensory issue reduces the physical and the fear response. By reducing the stress of each sensory experiences, we are working to keep them within the tolerant level and complete the visit as effectively as possible. Thank you for working with us.
On the day of the appointment
Do lots of deep touch pressure:
     Deep massage, alone or with vibration
     Put on tight stretchy clothing, ace bandages under clothing or a pressure vest before and/or during the appointment
     Lie under a weight blanket, in a squeeze machine, or under something heavy
And heavy work:
     Pushing, pulling or carrying something heavy. Moving heavy objects
     Go to a playground. Climb, swing, stretch (use the monkey bars to hang)
     Jump, skip rope
     Squeeze using arms or hands or legs (“squeeze this ball between your knees.”)
     Chew or oral pressure
     Brush teeth
     Animal walks (walk like a crab, an elephant etc)
     Doorway push – Stand in a doorway and push against it with hand and maybe with feet
     Push-ups, either against the floor or wall
     Jumping jacks, burpees, Turkish get ups
     Wear a weighted vest
During visit
     Wear the X ray apron
     Wear a weighted vest
     Just before starting the work, do a mouth massage while in the chair
     Provide fidget toys for hands
     Wear a fidget belt around the hips or trunk to provide pressure and add fidget items
     Provide a squeezable ball to place between knees and squeeze when needed
     Use a firm touch if touching the child is needed
     Use something to block the light (may need to fit under glasses sometimes used during a procedure.
     Sound-cancelling headphones
     Headphones with calming recordings
     Child has a way to signal distress

Please remember to forward this issue if you know of anyone who would find the information helpful. Thanks.

  1. If you are interested in the websites used to create the article above, we have itavailable here.


Finally, a question: The last 5 newsletters have been longer than usual. Do you prefer to get lots of info at once or have it divided into more bite-sized pieces? Thanks for helping me. This info is only helpful if it is being read so I need to know your preferences.

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