ADHD Dental Care
ADHD can make an hour-long dental appointment very difficult. Being able to focus on what the provider is communicating with you or your child, as well as sitting for an extended period of time can present quite a challenge. Dentists that are committed to quality care will be able to help patients experience a positive dental visit, regardless of whatever special needs they may have. Here are some tips to help you experience better dental health when living with ADHD.
During Dental Appointments
Patients with moderate to severe ADHD may become irritated during their care, especially if they are exposed to longer appointments or new stimuli. Keep visits short and sweet, preferably in the morning. If necessary, break the treatment up into smaller appointments, so that there is less time sitting still. A weighted blanket may help some people sit more comfortably.
Nitrous oxide is a great way to help relax most patients, including those with ADHD. It’s easy to administer and takes only a few minutes to achieve calming results. Oral sedation or hospital sedation may be useful for patients that have a large amount of treatment that is needed, in order to complete it all during the same appointment. Many dentists offer oral sedation to patients of all ages as a way to help cope with anxiety related to dental care.
Bringing something along with you to the appointment is perfectly fine. Some people use headphones and mp3 players to distract themselves during their appointment. Others may bring handheld video games, movie players, or word puzzles. Having something in front of you to keep you busy is fine, as long as it doesn’t get between your mouth and the line of sight of your provider.
How Medications Affect Oral Health
Patients with ADHD frequently take medications that cause them to crave sugar. Because of this, they often have a higher rate of tooth decay. Sugar doesn’t necessarily mean eating candy. Many things that people don’t often think about can cause decay if the teeth are exposed to them frequently throughout the day. Some examples include fruit juice, milk, diet soda, and fruit snacks. Keep these types of foods restricted to meals, and for snacks choose fibrous fruits and water.
Using an electric toothbrush is a great way for maximum plaque removal during brushing. It encourages independence with children and removes more bacteria than a manual toothbrush. Always brush for at least 2 minutes, twice each day. Consider purchasing a brush that has a built-in timer to alert you when it has been the full 2 minutes. It is perfectly fine to allow your child to brush their own teeth, as long as the parent brushes the child’s teeth for them at least once a day. Flossing between with floss picks is an easy way to ensure that the areas between the teeth are cleaned, preventing decay.
If possible, add a home fluoride gel or rinse to your end of the day routine. Fluoride is excellent for remineralizing weak enamel or areas that are cavity prone.