An extra visit to the dentist can be highly beneficial for children with special needs. This visit should take place prior to their primary appointment (where the necessary treatment will take place), and is known as a pre-appointment. But what is a pre-appointment with a special needs dentist, and what can it actually achieve?
Prior to the Primary Visit
A special needs dentist will be happy to accommodate a pre-appointment because they recognize the advantage it can offer in terms of your child's comfort, and the ultimate efficiency of their treatment. It's simply a visit to the dentist prior to your child's primary appointment. What can happen at a pre-appointment?
Familiarization With the Experience
The pre-appointment allows your child to see the place where their dentist works, along with getting to meet the staff who will be attending to their dental needs. They will meet the reception staff, the dental assistants, and the dentist themselves. Your child will also see the treatment room where the work will be performed, and can even see the equipment that might be used on them, along with an explanation of the purpose of the equipment. It's all about familiarizing your child with the experience so that the primary appointment runs smoothly and efficiently.
While the pre-appointment generally doesn't involve the dentist actually inspecting your child's teeth, it can be an opportunity to get as much relevant information as possible. This allows the clinic staff to know how your child's specific disability might be affecting their dental health (if applicable, and it depends on the nature of your child's disability). You may also wish to discuss any specific concerns you may have about your child's dental health, assuming the visit is for anything other than a standard checkup.
You may also wish to inquire about sedation options if you feel they will be necessary. Although total sedation is unlikely to be required unless the required treatment demands it (which is generally limited to oral surgery and other invasive procedures), your child may benefit from nitrous oxide (laughing gas) to relax them during their primary appointment, while still keeping them conscious.
A dental pre-appointment certainly isn't mandatory for children with special needs, but if you feel that a pre-appointment will be in your child's best interests, then be sure to ask about it. For more information, reach out to a special needs dentist.