Role of sensory-friendly dental practices in promoting oral health for Children with Autism

 In Children's Dental Health

Children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) often face challenges when it comes to dental care. They can have sensitivity issues with things like regular brushing and flossing. They can also have anxiety-related issues with visits to the dental clinic. The bright lights, strange sounds, and unfamiliar sensations associated with clinics can be overwhelming for them. This is where sensory-friendly dental practices come into play. These innovative approaches can vastly improve dental care for children with autism, making regular dental care easier and ensuring that dental visits are as stress-free as possible. Some examples of sensory-friendly dental practices include:

  • Using special toothbrushes that are soft
  • Using flavored toothpaste
  • Using dimmed lights or sunglasses during dental procedures
  • Using headphones and music to block out noise
  • Creating a comfortable environment

It is important that when you choose a dental clinic for your child, you look for one that incorporates such sensory-friendly dental practices. Let us now look at some of the reasons why such practices are important for children with autism,

They have Unique Challenges

Children with autism face a unique set of challenges that can be hard for others to understand. They face sensitivity issues, have difficulty communicating, and can have behavioral issues too. Things like bright lights, jarring sounds, and uncomfortable environments can stress them out, and they can have difficulty properly communicating about these discomforts. As parents and caregivers, it is our job to understand their issues and make them as comfortable as possible. The dentist and the parent must be willing to communicate with the child and give them support during dental procedures. 

It Can Create a Calm Environment

Sensory adaptations such as dimmed lights, soothing music, weighted blankets, and noise-canceling headphones can provide children with a calm and soothing environment. This will make them comfortable and help them get through the dental procedure without stress. Other methods, like visual support and social stories, can also help reduce stress and create a calm environment. Remember, the more comfortable they are, the greater the chance that they will regularly follow proper oral hygiene, benefiting their oral health in the long run. 

Dentists who want to make their clinics more welcoming for children with autism must take care to incorporate sensory-friendly practices into their workspaces. Soft lighting, soothing background music, and a quiet waiting area can help reduce the patient’s anxiety. Visual aids such as pictures, social stories, and calming colors can also help the dentist communicate with their patient better. There is special training and certification that dentists can undergo to become autism friendly. 


It is clear that children with autism spectrum disorder face a unique set of challenges that can make it difficult for them to practice proper oral hygiene. It is important that caregivers and dentists realize these challenges and try their best to alleviate them. It is essential that children follow regular oral hygiene practices so that they don’t face dental issues like cavities and gum disease. Here at Desert Family Dental, our team of experienced dental professionals strives to make your special needs child as comfortable as possible to ensure a smooth session. Read our patient testimonials to see some of the positive experiences our clients had with us. Call now at (480) 485-7747 or contact us online to book an appointment. 

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