You may find the experience of going to the dentist stressful. In this guide, you’ll find out why going to the dentist is important, what’s involved and what you can do during your visit to improve your experience.
1. Why do I need to go to the dentist?
To keep your teeth and gums healthy, you need to have regular check-ups at the dentist. If your teeth and gums aren’t healthy, you may:
- Get an infection that causes pain and sickness
- Have problems with tooth decay and risk losing your teeth
2. What’s involved in a visit to the dentist?
2.1 Find a Dentist
First, you’ll need to find a dentist and make an appointment. When you phone up or make an appointment online it’s worth checking whether the dentist is ‘autism-friendly’ and can make any adjustments you might need.
2.2. Have a check-up
The dentist will take a careful look inside your mouth at your teeth and gums to make sure they are in good condition.
To make it easier to do this, you will sit in a chair that the dentist can raise and lower in order to examine your teeth and gums carefully. You will need to keep your mouth open and the dentist will focus a strong light on your mouth so they can see.
Dentists have a range of professional tools, including a mirror that they put inside your mouth to look at your teeth from different angles. The mirror can feel cold.
2.3. Have treatment if necessary
After looking at your teeth, the dentist might decide that you need some treatment. For example, they may need to give your teeth a professional clean. This involves some noisy equipment. If it makes you feel uncomfortable, you could talk to your dentist about it. Perhaps you could put on some headphones and listen to music so you can block out the sound.
2.4. After your treatment
After your treatment, the dentist may ask you to rinse out your mouth with mouthwash, which can taste quite strong. The dentist may also tell you that you need a further appointment to complete your treatment.
3. What should I do?
Here are some things you can do to make your visit to the dentist a better experience
You don’t have to tell the dentist you are autistic, but it might be useful too. Giving your dentist and other staff as much information as you can, will help them to prepare for your visit and make any adjustments that they need to. If you don’t like the strong taste of mouthwash, for example, they might be able to give you plain water to rinse your mouth.
If you haven’t been to this dentist before, ask if you can go and see what it’s like before your appointment.
You could arrange a visit to explore the building and meet the dentist and staff. You could ask them to tell you what will happen at the appointment and what they will do. You could also ask them to show you the equipment they will use and how it will work.
Book an appointment at a time that suits you
Try to get the first appointment of the day – maybe even book a double time slot. At the beginning of the day, the dentist is unlikely to be late and if you book a double slot you will not feel rushed.
Take some headphones and music
If you don’t like the sounds of the dentist’s equipment you could take headphones and play your own music.