Dental treatment

Hi. My son is 13 and has autism and adhd.

He is scared of the dentist but does go and I sit in the room with him and reassure him when they are looking at his teeth.

However, last visit they said he has a cavity and needs a filling,

personally I don’t think he’s going to cope, but the dentist had told me they will be fine.

Is there anything I can do to help prepare him mentally for this? I have a horrible idea in my mind that as soon as they get the drill out he’s going to run away screaming. He’s terrified of anything medical and last time he had a blood test he had a full on meltdown and screamed the hospital down.

  • Whenever I have to have something done, I use loud music to drown out the noise of what's going on and if it's loud enough, it's the only thing you can concentrate on at the time.

    My dentist is happy to have a patient that will not flinch or panic - she just taps me on the shoulder when she's done.

  • My daughter is the same, it took 4 people to hold her for a blood test. She is also nervous at the dentist she is fine with a check up but fillings take a bit more work, as she has no enamel on her teeth she has had to have a few now, 

    We worked out which tools she is ok with dentist showed her each one and what it did. For her it is the anesthetic, water drill and the thing they squeeze the filling in the hole with. So they use a bur and put the filling in manually, it is not great and it does need replacing but she doesn't get anxious. She also holds her toy to keep herself calm. 

    Dentists have got quite good at working with patients who struggle, at least some have so talk to the dentist and explain step by step to your son so he knows what is going on 

  • My old NHS dentist (pre-diagnosis) had a monthly fund to cover treatment under sedation at a private hospital. It was completely free for me as I was on means tested benefits and had a tooth extracted. Because of your son's age his dentist can refer him to a dental hospital and the work can either be done under sedation or a general anaesthetic, if necessary. My brother with ASD used to see an NHS special needs dentist when he was under 18 and was really happy going there. I am currently happy to pay a lovely private dentist to have my dental work done under sedation. It costs quite a lot but I googled local dentists that treat phobics and got lucky. She understands my ASD, SPD etc and even tucks me in with heavy blanket before she starts anything. I would never force a child to have a filling under duress when there are safe and effective options available.

  • Your usual dentist or sw should know about a dental practice in your area which has a contract with the clinical commissioning group to supply specialist dental treatment for people such as your son on the nhs where sedation would be administered via a clear mask over the nose and mouth initially, sometimes referred to as "happy air",  Then when he was relaxed they would use an intravenous anaesthetic to do the treatment.  He would remain in the practice until he was awake enough to go home with you.