Dental Sedation And Autism: What ASD Parents Should Know

As a parent of a child with autism, you know going to the dentist might be a little more difficult. No child enjoys going to the dentist, but a child who struggles to communicate may be even less cooperative than a neuro-typical child would be. As a parent of a child with autism, it can be hard to know how to make going to the dentist easier on your vehicle. Fortunately, there is a solution – dental sedation. Before you get too freaked out by the idea of sedating your child, it may be helpful to learn more about this procedure.

How is Sedation Done?

There are different types of sedation that you can look at for options to help your child relax. The first is conscious sedation which simply lowers the patient's level of consciousness. They can still respond to the dentist and things around them. Deep sedation is when you can't respond to stimuli and need help to breathe. This form of sedation will mean the patient isn't roused easily. There is also general anesthesia which will put your child to sleep for the entirety of the procedure.

As the child's parent, it is up to you to express the type of sedation you feel your child needs. If you disagree with the dentist, then it's your right to go to a different one. You'll find some dentists are better equipped to work with children who have autism and will even try to find ways around sedation if it's possible. 

In What Situations Should Sedation Be Considered?

No child with autism is the same as the next. It's important to understand the guidelines to follow when determining if your child needs to be sedated for dental care. The American Academy of Pediatrics has a list of circumstances they recommend sedation for. If the patient cannot cooperate due to communication level, lack of emotional and psychological maturity, and disabilities or certain medical conditions, then sedation should be used. If the child is very anxious or scared, then sedation is also recommended to keep the child safe and help them deal with the fear.

Don't hesitate to do research on dentists in your area to find one who has experience working with children who have autism. This is going to be a dentist who is more equipped to find ways to work with your child to give him/her the dental care he/she needs. Furthermore, it is important to keep in mind that dental sedation is intended to make sure your child can get the best dental care possible. If your child is unable to be calmed or soothed during a dental appointment, he/she could become injured. It may also give you peace of mind to know that it is not uncommon for someone who suffers from extreme phobia of going to the dentist to also utilize dental sedation. It isn't just a technique used on autistic children.