How Does Autism Affect Oral Health?

Studies have shown that children with autism have a higher risk of developing certain oral health conditions such as tooth decay or even periodontal disease. While autism doesn’t physically affect a person’s oral health, it can lead to the development of improper oral hygiene practices.

Children with autism often brush their teeth less frequently or do not use the proper brushing technique. Moreover, visits to the dentist are made much more complicated because of the sensory sensitivities of the child, which can be felt with higher intensities in new environments.

What Are the Common Dental Health Issues of Children with Autism?

Children and even adults on the autism spectrum may be more likely to deal with:

  • Cavities
  • Periodontal disease (gum disease)
  • Excessive tooth grinding
  • Dry mouth

Of course, every child is different, and being more likely to develop certain dental health issues doesn’t mean they will do so.

However, parents of children with autism may need to take special care of their little one’s oral health and make some accommodations.

How to Improve Oral Health in a Child with Autism

Here are some good oral health practices that can be regularly done at home under the supervision of the parents or caregivers:

  • Brushing the teeth regularly, which should start as soon as the first tooth erupts.
  • Choosing the acceptable products for the child in terms of the type of toothbrush they prefer, toothpaste flavor and color, etc.
  • Adding visual support in the bathroom to help the child follow the process.
  • Creating a visual schedule for oral health.
  • Reducing sugary treats and drinks.
  • Adding plenty of fresh fruits and veggies to the child’s diet.

Taking Your Child to the Dentist

Even if you build a strong and easy to follow routine at home, taking your child to the dentist may still present some challenges.

It’s important to find a dentist who has some experience in working with children on the autism spectrum, and who can help you prepare for their visit.

Usually, the preparation process can involve:

  • Communication with the child to establish trust
  • Visiting the office to help the child become familiar with the environment
  • Showing the child what will happen during the appointment to prepare them for the process
  • Offering positive reinforcement to increase compliance

In some cases, sedation may also be necessary to help the child feel at ease during the appointment, and allow the dentist to restore their oral health.

Bringing Your Child to Saginaw Kids Dentistry

As parents, we understand you may feel weary of bringing your child into a new environment that can seem scary even for adults. But we assure you both Dr. Elias and Dr. Christina will do everything they can to help your child feel safe and comfortable during their appointment.

Book a consultation at Saginaw Kids Dentistry online, or call us at (682) 285-1900 for more information.

Further reading:

Welcome to Saginaw Kids Dentistry

Welcome to Saginaw Kids Dentistry

purple divider
Learn More!
Why Choose A Pediatric Dentist Over A General Dentist?

Why Choose A Pediatric Dentist Over A General Dentist?

purple divider
Learn More!

Become a Part of OUR Family Today!

At the heart of Saginaw Kids Dentistry is our passion for meeting families, seeing them grow, and being a trustworthy presence for kids and parents alike. If you’re ready to join our patient family, book a visit online today! We are excited to meet you and your child.

little girl brushing her teeth