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Apr 21, 2013

Autism and Dental Work

As an autism mom, I'm grateful for pediatric dentistry.  The dental aspect of autism is especially hard for me. My kids are not so good at letting me brush their teeth, and they'd rather chew on the toothbrush than brush their teeth themselves.  Their school OT suggested vibrating toothbrushes.  I had never tried them before because I thought the noise would totally bug them, but actually, they really like those.  I'm grateful for their ABA programs for implementing tooth brushing.  They are starting right at the basic, desensitizing them to the feeling of a toothbrush in their mouths and working up to total brushing of their teeth.  This might not sound good to those out there who don't understand because how long will that take?  But, I'm glad they are doing it a little at a time, so toothbrushing will no longer be so aversive to my kids.
Needless to say, my kids have plenty of cavities.  Also needless to say, they will not tolerate any dental work (xrays, teeth cleaning, procedures).  This is why I'm grateful for pediatric dentistry.  Our primary care doctor referred them to the pediatric dentistry clinic at the hospital.  For those of you who are curious how to get this kind of dental care, the primary care doctor is who I would start with.  Most know where to refer your child for specialized dental care.
Our pediatric dentist wants to see my kids every four months for checkups.  This is basically so that they can get used to him and more comfortable with dental visits.  He does a visual exam of their teeth when we visit.  If he sees any visible cavities, that is when we schedule an entire day for dental procedures.
For Jason, in order to even be able to have this done, he first had to have a physical exam.  The day before the procedure, we had to go to the hospital for preop.  The morning of the procedure he couldn't have anything to eat, and he could only drink clear fluids up until 2 hours before his scheduled procedure.  After that, he wasn't allowed to drink anything.
When we got to the hospital, they changed him into some nifty hospital pajamas.  I like those a lot more than hospital gowns...even if Jason does have a cute little bum.  Jason was super comfy in his pajamas, and he was lucky because Aunt Michelle sent him with his SUPER SOFT blankie.
While we were waiting, the anesthesiologist came to talk to us.  He explained how they would put Jason under for the procedure.  The procedure would last anywhere from 2-4 hours for the xray, cleaning, fillings, any major dental work.
I was so glad they had the swivel chairs in the room we were waiting in.  Jason was very entertained and resourceful, using the sink and the hospital bed to propel his spinning.  :)
Anyway, the anesthesiologist came and got Jason and told me where the waiting room was.  I waited forever for them to finish.  They ended up doing three mini root canals in the back of his mouth and pulling one tooth.  I'm so grateful that they could do this all in one visit (even if it did take all day).  I'm grateful my baby boy was asleep and didn't have to freak out about what was happening.
We spent a couple hours in the recovery room waiting for Jason to come out of anesthesia, and then we were discharged to home.  Jason now has a much happier mouth.


  1. Thank you for sharing your details for dental visits. I have a son with Autism.

  2. Thank you for this! I felt like my kid was the only one that had to go under general anathesia for a routine procedure.

  3. There are so many things we deal with, as special needs parents, that make us feel alone. It is always a comfort to know that there are millions of parents out there that have experienced what we are now and have that love and understanding for your situation. Xoxo