Special needs or autistic adults & children require a patient and understanding dentist with a gentle touch who can provide excellent dental care while also keeping the nature of the visit calm and easy-going.
For children, dental care is a priority as having good oral health can help avoid many problems in the future, especially during their developmental stages. However, children with autism often have a harder time getting the proper dental care they need. Certain dentists may not know how to approach a patient with special needs or simply aren’t trained to do so. Dr. Marc Lazare, DDS, MAGD, however, is an expert dental professional trained to see many types of patients with various conditions and disorders. By understanding the patient’s needs, ensuring a comfortable visit, and working with their parent/caregiver, Dr. Lazare can successfully treat autistic children and individuals with the proper dental work needed.
What is Autism?
Autism is a severe developmental brain disorder that usually manifests within the first 3-4 years of a child’s life, affecting brain functionality in areas like social interaction and communication. Children affected by this disorder tend to have difficulty with language and behavior, as well. Currently, studies show that 1 in 59 children get diagnosed with autism, a number that is increasing year-to-year. And out of this number, ASD (autism spectrum disorder) is found four times more in boys than in girls. Early diagnosis and intervention are vital, as catching it during the developmental stages can positively improve the child’s social skills and ability to communicate later on in life. Educational and Behavioral Therapy is the most important thing you can do for an autistic child, along with a lot of love and patience.
Symptoms and behavioral signs vary in all children diagnosed with autism. This is because each child’s behavioral traits are unique, though there are general signs and symptoms one can observe. These signs and symptoms include any combination of the following:
- Lack of eye contact with the parent by 1 year of age
- No response when a parent addresses the child by name
- Appearing to be deaf
- Resistance to being held by the parent
- No two-word phrases by 2 years of age
- Exhibiting rambling speech
- Perform self-stimulating behaviors like rocking back-and-forth or flapping their hands
- Sensitivity to light, sound, touch, and odor
- Developing seizures (25% of children with autism experience this)
How Autism Affects Dental Health
Pediatric gastroenterologists have found that children with autism tend to regurgitate their food more than once a week, with stomach acids causing tooth decay. The dentist should check for signs of teeth grinding since this is evident in about 20-25% of children with autism. Medications used to treat several aspects of autism can have adverse dental side effects, which can affect an individual’s ability to swallow, their speech and use of removable appliances due to a decrease in the production of saliva.
For children and individuals with Autism, new experiences can be quite challenging and often bring about feelings of anxiety due to unfamiliarity. Loud noises from devices such as dental drills may irritate an autistic patient. In a similar vein, bright lights while in the patient chair or smells, tastes, and textures usually common in such dental procedures may be upsetting or disturbing to some. Patients may feel uncomfortable being touched by a dental professional or being so close to them during their appointments. Some may even find the dental chair and its movements to be uncomfortable and refuse it due to unfamiliarity, making most visits very challenging and dental care very hard to administer. Autistic patients also will face difficulty accurately communicating with the dentist the exact location of their pain, if any, making the ensuing feeling of discomfort all the more unnerving.
Additionally, these appointments must be kept short and prompt for the convenience of the patient. With these visits being so hard to fully flesh out, it’s easy for dentists, in general, to miss something or perhaps not getting to address an issue found during the appointment. However, Dr. Marc Lazare is an understanding, patient, and caring dental professional who takes time and effort in ensuring his patients have a comfortable, stress-free, and painless visit.
Negligence of oral and dental health can turn into something far worse, but with a caring dentist that knows your limits, you won’t need to run that risk.
How To Improve The Chances of a Successful Dental Visit
One of the things we recommend patients/parents of patients to do is contact the dental office to make them aware of any special needs required. Arranging a visit and a tour of the office can help autistic patients feel more comfortable with the staff and their surroundings. The patient should be accompanied by someone they know and trust well, and they should use photos, books, and toys to help familiarize the patient and help comfort them during their visit. By preparing and explaining what is going to happen, you can help instill confidence and some trust between the dental professional and the patient. Please remind the dentist and their team to ease the patient into any treatment or procedure by avoiding sudden movements and sensory overloads. In general, our first appointment should be kept short and quiet to ensure comfort, with positive reinforcement whenever the child is on good behavior. Without throwing a million items or technical terms in it, everything regarding the procedure should be explained and demonstrated before being done, like showing the patient the instruments that will be used. Dr. Marc Lazare will speak in short, specific sentences with a calm and positive tone throughout, and will explain patiently to the individual where and why any piece of equipment needs to be used.
Schedule an Appointment With Dr. Lazare Today
Dr. Marc Lazare, D.D.S., M.A.G.D., is an expert cosmetic dentist with many years of training in dental and oral-related health and practices. Considered one of the leading dental professionals in all of New York, he has written and published many works, given lectures, and is part of numerous fellowships.
Speak to a team member for more information on how we can make this visit and future ones more comfortable for you or your loved ones. Dr. Lazare treats his special needs and autistic patients of different age groups with the understanding and care they need to feel comfortable and have an easy-going dental experience. Patients should not feel pressured or stressed when trying to take care of their teeth, and we will do what we can to give you and your loved ones the care they deserve.
Why Choose Dr. Lazare?
Dr. Marc Lazare is one of New York’s leading dental professionals, specializing in many treatments, techniques, and facets of dentistry, such as periodontics and biomimetic. Dr. Lazare has given countless lectures and is regarded as a “Dentist to the Stars” because of his extensive celebrity client list.
- B.A. University of Pennsylvania (Major: Natural Sciences)
- D.D.S. New York University College of Dentistry (Class President)
- Intern in General Practice Residency Program, Department of Dentistry North Shore University Hospital, Manhasset, N.Y.
- Chief Resident in General Practice Residency Program, Department of Dentistry North Shore University Hospital
- Present Active Member of the Attending Staff- North Shore University Hospital
- Present Member of the Clinical Faculty- NYU College of Dentistry
- Master in the Academy of General Dentistry – Awarded in 2011
- Serves on the Board for the Academy of Biomimetic Dentistry
- Fellow in the Academy of General Dentistry
- Fellow in the International Academy for Dental-Facial Esthetics
- NEW YORK LICENSE #046840 ISSUED1996