Special Needs Dentistry
In 2020, the CDC reported that approximately 1 in 54 children in the U.S. is diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder (ASD), with boys four times more likely to be diagnosed with autism than girls. Having an autism spectrum disorder means that there are a wide range (“spectrum”) of symptoms that can be present, which will vary and present uniquely from person to person.
Establishing and maintaining oral health routines can be a challenging task for parents and caregivers of patients with special needs, who may find the very act of brushing their teeth to be too invasive and the sensations/tastes too overstimulating.
It may take several tries to find the right toothbrush (any kind is fine, as long as it has soft bristles and is the correct size) and toothpaste, but once you do, gradual conditioning will often work well in building up to that point where you will be able to brush all of the teeth. Consistent verbal cues and photographs of each step may help in creating a predictable routine.
Visiting the dentist may also present unique challenges. Purchasing a dental mirror at your local pharmacy and practicing counting teeth at home may help prepare for your visit. Photos of the office and staff members you will be visiting may also help...please see visit the Our Practice and the Meet Us sections of our website to help create a visual connection.
Understanding that coming into a new office may be challenging both to the patient and the caregiver, we allow extra time for the patient to become acclimated to us and our office in a calm, compassionate environment. We encourage you to speak to us to let us know if there are any specific needs that can help us prepare for your visit - for example, sensitivity to sensory inputs such as certain smells, flavors, bright lights and loud noises. In addition, bringing the toothbrush and toothpaste that is used at home for daily care helps, as it is a familiar item to the patient that we can use as an aid when we do our exam.
Dr. Hull completed his general residency at Tufts with focus on the care of special needs children and adults. For those patients whose care is not able to be provided in our office, he works with board certified anesthesiologists at Franciscan Children’s Hospital, where dental care can be completed in one visit under general anesthesia.
For more information, please feel free to Contact us with any questions you may have. If you would like to make an appointment, you may send us an Appointment Request or call us directly at (781) 942-2020.
Dr. Hull and staff share a mission for compassionate special needs dental care.