Research Making Headway for Autistic Patients Overwhelmed by Dental Visits

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According to University of Southern California (USC) research, children who have been diagnosed as on the autistic spectrum often have difficulties with dental visits.  Due to an extreme sensitivity to stimuli, such as sounds, sights, and touching, a simple prophylaxis, or professional dental cleaning - which is often fun for other children - can be a dreaded torture for autistic patients.

As dentists and dental professionals are often not trained to handle these challenging cases, the patients are often physically restrained during the dental procedures, which in turn exacerbates an autistic patient's fear and discomfort.

However, research shows that some simple changes in environment and approach can greatly alleviate many of the difficulties associated with the dental visit.  According to USC News, "By replacing fluorescent lights with softer and colored lighting, playing soothing music and using butterfly wraps that provide calming deep pressure," anxiety and negative behaviors can be reduced in patients with autism.

Many of these small changes for autistic patients would be appreciated by all patients, effecting a less anxious dental visit.  As technology and consciousness advance, many of the formerly traumatic dental procedures are now comfortable and painless.  Digital radiographs (x-rays) are quicker and more comfortable than the traditional ones; new anesthetic works quicker and wears off more quickly after the visit; newer hand pieces (drills) are quieter and less intimidating. Today, the greatest fear is fear itself!


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