How to Reinforce Tooth Brushing to Autistic Child ?
Created by Dr Kunal Gupta Updated on Apr 13, 2020
Because prevention is always better than cure, it is advisable to follow a proper home care regimen to maintain good oral hygiene in children who are autistic. Autistic children are hypersensitive (they feelthings much more thoroughly than the typically developing child), so performing dental treatments is a herculean task, and may even require use of general anesthesia at times.
How to Introduce Brushing to Child with Autism
You have to follow the“Tell Show Do” technique. Gently tell the child about the word ‘toothbrush’. Make sure it’s part of his or her vocabulary. You can also introduce other words like toothpaste, spitting or rinsing.
#ParentuneTip: Consider tooth brushing a behavior that has to be instilled in the child. Hence, follow a process to develop the behavior. Don’t practice it as a ritual,but develop it as an activity.
Use pictures of a toothbrush and children using toothbrushes. Follow this for 2-3 days and then show the actual toothbrush to the child and let him feel it. Make him/her feel the bristles on the nails and then on the hands. Do this for 2-3 days; once the child is comfortable, demonstrate the use of a toothbrush on yourself.
Then, let the child hold the brushand try brushing his/her teeth. Maybe sing a song like “This is the way we brush our teeth, brush our teeth, brush our teeth…every morning and night.’
Be a role model: demonstrate tooth brushing, spitting and rinsing. You can also make a video and show it to your child; basically make it as a playful activity, not a routine.
What You Should Do
Tooth brushing should not necessarily be done in the bathroom; it can be practiced anywhere, like in living room or bedroom. You just have to make sure to brush in any place of the house where the child is comfortable.
You should be standing behind your child and his head should be resting on your chest, while the chin is supported by your hand.
Brush for at least 2 minutes, if the child allows you to brush continuously. Otherwise do it in parts. Use a timer or count the number of strokes to engage the child. Singing songs also help. What Are Must Know Facts About Autism? [Expert Video].
How to Reinforce Tooth Brushing to Autistic Child
Always praise your child verbally, and hug them if theycomplete their brushing activity. This will help in reinforcing the behavior.
Use any toothbrush with soft or super soft bristles and non-fluoride toothpaste like Pigeon or Chicco (if the child swallows the toothpaste). Use kids’ toothpaste like Colgate kids, or Pepsodent kids if the child swallows toothpaste only occasionally. Use adult or regular toothpaste if the child begins to spit.
Was this article helpful for you? As the parents of an autistic child, what are the other troubles you face and how do you solve them? Let us know in the comments below!
About the author: Dr Kunal Gupta is a Pediatric Dentist in DLF Phase II, Gurgaon and has an experience of 13 years in this field.