Sensitive Children Often Require a Special Approach

A dental visit can be tougher on some people than others, particularly those who are sensitive, have special needs or have had a less than pleasant experience in the past.

Wild About Smiles’ Dr. Perry Francis has spent decades working with children and parents and has a special affinity for sensitive patients, as well as those with behavioral issues or special needs, including Down syndrome, cerebral palsy, autism and other diagnoses.

He says patience is the key.

“Sometimes it takes many visits to help the child become comfortable with the dental environment,” he says.

As an example, he talks about a 15-year-old boy with autism who he started seeing when the boy was three. “The first time he walked in the door he was screaming because he wasn’t comfortable being here,” Dr. Francis shares. “He had a hard time dealing with new situations and it was obvious we wouldn’t be able to do an exam that day.”Dr. Francis and the boy’s mother developed a plan where she would bring him in to the office for a few minutes once a month so he could acclimate to the new environment. Each time she brought him in, he would venture further into the office, and was finally willing to sit in the assistant’s chair. Dr. Francis didn’t charge for these extra visits.

“It took six or eight months, and we finally did his first exam in the assistant’s chair, because that’s where he was comfortable,” Dr. Francis says. “On his next visit, we did a cleaning. More work was done on each visit as the child became progressively more comfortable with the process.”

Now, 12 years later, the young man has braces and his dentist is able to treat him just like any other patient.

“I enjoy working with patients who have special needs,” Dr. Francis says. “They’re just wired a little differently and it’s important that we understand that and adjust our approach to meet their needs.”

If you have concerns about your child’s fear of dentistry, schedule a time to talk with Dr. Francis so that you can work together to create a plan that’s best for your child. For some children, the plan might include giving the child mild sedation or general anesthesia, both of which can safely be done in the Wild About Smiles office.

When a child is afraid of the dentist, for whatever reason, putting off dental appointments may seem like the easier solution, but it can cause big problems down the road if dental issues are not addressed early. “It’s better to get the children in early so they can get used to the process,” Dr. Francis says. “And it also allows us to address small dental problems before they become big problems.”

If you’d like to schedule a consultation with Dr. Francis, please call us at (775) 331-9477.

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