How Do Special Needs Dentists Help Their Patients Feel More Comfortable?

If you have a child with special needs, then it is important that you find a dentist who cares for patients with special needs. Many parents wonder, though, how visiting a special needs dentist differs from visiting a general or family dentist. It all comes down to protocols. There are a few ways that special needs dentists typically help their patients feel more comfortable so that they're better able to perform the work needed to keep their patient's teeth in good shape.

Environmental Comforts

Since many children with special needs are very affected by their environment, special needs dentists work hard to create an environment that is calming and soothing. A regular dentist's office may play upbeat pop music, but a special needs dentist is more likely to play soothing classical music. The walls are typically painted a relaxing blue. There may be funny or cute posters on the walls and stuffed animals the patient can hold while they're in the dentist's chair.

Longer Appointments

At the special needs dentist, appointments are generally longer. This gives the dentist more time to chat with the patient and make them comfortable before they start working. It also means the dentist won't have to rush. They can pause, give the child time to re-adjust, or check in with the parent many times during the treatment, without worrying that they're making another patient late.

Pre-Appointment Welcome Visits

Kids with special needs often feel more comfortable in spaces they've seen before. So it's common for special needs dentists to encourage their patients to come in for a welcome visit before they have any work done. During this visit, the child may be shown around the dental office. The dentist may chat with them, give them stickers, and otherwise make them feel comfortable so that when they come back to have dental work done, they feel calm and at ease.


While most dentists offer sedation, special needs dentists tend to offer it more readily. They may prescribe an oral sedative for you to give your child at home before their appointment, or they may administer laughing gas through a mask. These sedatives are very safe, and they allow the dentist to get the necessary work done when kids are a little too energetic or distracted to sit still in the dentist's chair.

Now you have a better idea of what a special needs dentist has to offer. If your child has special needs, visiting a dentist who offers these services is paramount.