How To Make Orthodontic Appointments More Bearable For Your Child With Sensory Processing Disorder

Posted on: 12 May 2016

A trip to get braces fitted at the orthodontist and subsequent trips to get braces tightened can be painful and uncomfortable experiences for any child or teen. However, when coupled with Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD) and oral defensiveness, these trips can lead to a minefield of unpleasantness. If you have a child or teen that has irregularities in his or her teeth and it's been decided that braces are required, here are some things you can do to make sure your child's visit to the orthodontist goes as smoothly as possible

Find the right dentist

Many paediatric dentists or orthodontists are familiar with working with children who have SPD, so ask beforehand to make sure your orthodontist has this experience. An SPD-aware dentist will have tricks up his or her sleeve to help your child feel as comfortable as possible during the procedure, and he or she may know ways to minimize any sensory intrusion. Once you've found an SPD-savvy orthodontist, speak to him or her before the day of the appointment and explain the specific difficulties that your child has. This will help both your child and the orthodontist when it comes to the procedure itself.

Explain to your child what will happen

Before the day of the procedure, talk to your child about what will happen at the visit and, if possible, have the orthodontist speak to your child too. As much as you're able, let your child know what kind of sensory experiences to expect and how long they should last (the orthodontist office should be able to supply you with this information). If you don't know, don't make it up; being able to share even a little information should help reduce any anxiety your child may have.

If possible, and if your child wishes, see if you can sit with your child during the procedure. Having you there will be a comfort for your child.

Cover your sensory bases

Speak to your child's orthodontist and see if, before starting the fitting, a gum massage can be performed on your child. If your child is hypersensitive to oral stimulation, then this should help desensitise the area; if they are hyposensitive, it should be a calming experience. Either way, your child will hopefully be more willing to relax and let the orthodontist do his or her job. If this works, a massage can be done before each subsequent tightening visit.