Oral Health and Genetic Risk Factors

Dentists and Autism: How to Prepare Your Child to Switch Dentists After Moving Home

Kids with autism often rely on routines to help them cope with the tasks that they must deal with in life. Establishing a routine that your child is comfortable with can take a lot of time and effort, especially if you're trying to get them to do something that has to happen but that doesn't happen every day, like going to the dentist.

Even if you and your dentist have worked with your child to make the check-up experience manageable, this can all go out of the window if you move to a new house and must switch dentists. Your child's acceptance of your current dentist may not automatically transfer to a new one. How can you make the transition smoother?

Don't Rush to Schedule an Appointment

Moving home can be a stressful experience for autistic kids—they have a lot of new stuff to deal with and may feel overloaded with new experiences. Rather than throw a new dentist into the mix too quickly, you may want to leave some time after moving before you take your child for a check-up.

Tip: If your child will be due to have a check-up soon after you move, it may be worth having the check-up early with your current dentist before you leave to buy some time.

Find the Right Dentist

Before you talk to your child about switching dentists, it's worth finding the dentist you'll use in your new neighbourhood. Try getting recommendations from other parents with autistic children or local support groups. If you haven't got any contacts in the area yet, you can also call some local family dentists and ask if they have experience of dealing with autistic patients.

If you find it hard to connect with the right dentist in general practice, a paediatric dentist with specialist training in working with kids with special needs, including autism, may be your best bet.

Prepare the Ground

If your child finds sudden change hard to cope with, then do some ground work before you take them to meet a new dentist. Explain that the whole family has to switch dentists because you've moved away and reassure your child that the dentist may be new, but the process of seeing the dentist is really the same. If your child responds well to knowing when things will happen, schedule an appointment a few months in advance, and add it to the family calendar or planner.

Tip: If your child is worried about seeing a new dentist or if they took a while to settle into the routine of visiting your previous one, then ask your dentist if you can visit the surgery and meet the dentist before you need to start making formal appointments. Getting used to the surgery's layout and meeting the dentist in advance may help your child deal with this change more easily.