When a Child with Autism Spectrum Disorder Needs Braces

Posted on: 22 January 2020

When a child is told that they need braces, they can experience a range of emotions, from curiosity about how the braces will look and feel to mild excitement as the appointment moves closer. When your child has autism spectrum disorder, some extra care is needed to make the process as calm and comfortable as it can possibly be. Some of this is rather simple, such as your dentist allocating additional time for the fitting to accommodate any hesitancy your child might feel (and any subsequent delays). There are additional points to consider.

Explaining the Process

With any patient, the dentist will explain the details of the procedure in an understandable manner, but this might not be sufficient for a child with autism spectrum disorder. Your child might benefit from having the process of receiving the braces demonstrated to them with pictures. If your dentist has experience in treating patients with autism spectrum disorder, they might have such pictures already, or you can download and print a dedicated working board for children with autism spectrum disorder and add basic line drawings yourself. 

The Power of Choice

It can be helpful to allow your child a sense of control over the process. Although they certainly need the braces and won't necessarily have control over this basic fact, they can help to choose the look of the braces. Get their input about whether they might want a tooth-coloured appliance, or even custom braces in a colour of their choosing (which could easily be in their favourite colour). Again, showing your child pictures of their various options can be of assistance.

After the Braces Have Been Fitted

Regardless of a patient's age and whether they have autism spectrum disorder or not, cleaning teeth with braces can take some getting used to. The onus is on you to assist your child, even to the point of taking over the duty of cleaning your child's teeth the majority of times. This is to prevent food and other debris from becoming attached to the braces and potentially contributing to decay. You might find a water flosser (also known as a water pick) to be helpful. This uses a harmless jet of water to remove debris from difficult-to-access parts of the mouth (of which there can be many more after braces have been fitted). You can use it yourself too, in order to demonstrate its function to your child.

Autism spectrum disorder is not a condition that will prevent your child from receiving braces, but additional considerations will certainly be necessary.