Typical Visit

What to Expect:

It is really important that you talk with your loved one and even show pictures of the office or of dental settings so that they have an idea of what they are going to walk into. For individuals on the Autism Spectrum, it might be really helpful to create a communication board specifically with what to expect at the dentist to get them ready for their visit.

For some individuals, it might be difficult for them to even walk into the dental operatory or sit in the dental chair during the first visit. Do not worry in the slightest if this happens. It might take several visits for your loved one to get used to the dental setting and eventually he or she will be ready to sit in the chair. Many dentists have the ability to do the exam and even cleaning while the child is sitting on the floor or even still in the waiting room.

A Typical Visit

  1. Walk into the office and check in with the front desk to let them know that you have arrived.
  2. Wait in the waiting room. If your loved one is not comfortable with all of the noise and people in the waiting room, you can wait in your car or outside and have the office call you once it is your loved one’s turn.
  3. Walk into the dental operatory and sit in the dental chair. Remember, if your loved one is having a hard time sitting in the chair, do not worry. It is totally normal and will take time for him or her to feel comfortable sitting in the chair.
  4. Hygienist or Dentist will walk in and introduce themselves, show your loved one all of the instruments, and demonstrate how they will be used.
  5. Hygienist or Dentist will perform a cleaning
    • Cleaning can be done with just a toothbrush and toothpaste if the individual is not able to tolerate all of the instruments.
    • There are devices that are used to help the dentist or hygienist keep the individual’s mouth open.
    • Protective stabilization might be used if your loved one is moving a lot in order to make them safe and comfortable to the cleaning.
  6. X-rays: many individuals are unable to tolerate taking x-rays, especially on the first visit.  For many, if there is an urgent need for x-rays, there are ways to get them taken, such as using protective stabilization and possibly even sedation.
  7. Dentist will perform a checkup to make sure there are no cavities, broken teeth or gum disease.