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how do I get ASD child to clean his teeth properly?

(18 Posts)
shutupaboutstarwars Sun 03-Mar-13 22:52:55

8 year old DS1 with (high functioning) ASD isn't cleaning his teeth properly. only 3 months since we last went to the dentist and they cleaned the tarter off his teeth and it is starting to build up again around his lower incisors and his gums bleed when we clean his teeth properly. he is later than all of his classmates to get adult teeth through and has only lost 4 teeth so far
he is quite willing to clean his teeth apart from when he feels as though we have tried to explain things to him again but we can't seem to be able to help him to do them properly himself. he has problems with both fine and gross motor control as well as transfering verbal instructions to physical acts. we have a children's electric toothbrush. anytime we try and help we just seem to be able to get him to do something a little different but not actually helping properly. eg he was cleaning just the top of his teeth and when we tried to get him to clean further towards the gum he ended up cleaning the gum itself and not the tooth. at one point he was just holding the toothbrush so it was barely touching the tooth and now he is sometimes applying too much pressure or ending up with so much toothpasty spit in his mouth and having it dribble out and having to be reminded to spit it out.
any suggestions, as anything we seem to say or do isn't making things any better and I don't think that just doing it for him is a long term option either

PolterGoose Sun 03-Mar-13 23:02:35

Don't worry about the spitting out, just change to a lower fluoride toothpaste, which are often milder flavoured and more palatable for children on the spectrum. My ds is 9 and has AS and we've had problems too but it has got better. DS changed to a basic battery toothbrush (an Oral B adult one), which involved lots of testing to find the right one. He uses a disclosing tablet once a week to ensure a good brushing, so he brushes, uses the tablet to see how he did, then brushes the inevitable pink muck away.

MareeyaDolores Sun 03-Mar-13 23:09:54

Electric toothbrush and (previously) a headlock blush
Possibly traumatised, but they have lovely teeth though wink

shutupaboutstarwars Sun 03-Mar-13 23:10:29

disclosing tablet sounds as very good idea, he is much better when he can see what is going wrong rather than just have someone describe it. the spit is only really a problem if he gets ready in the morning in the wrong order (has to reminded most mornings about something or other than he hasn't quite got around to doing yet). couldn't care less about him getting it down his pyjamas, but his school uniform is a different matter, or if he manages to get it on the floor again for DS2 to fall over on it again (suspect dyspraxia but he is only 3 at the moment).
we have an oral b children's electric toothbrush for him at the moment

MareeyaDolores Sun 03-Mar-13 23:11:40

Or this?

PolterGoose Sun 03-Mar-13 23:19:55

I think at 8 I'd use an adult brush, the children's ones are quite soft. Maybe do a visual timetable for the morning to help him do stuff in the right order? Ds always does teeth before getting dressed, we put the toothpaste on for him and he doesn't add water or rinse so that helps reduce dribbling grin

zzzzz Sun 03-Mar-13 23:23:51

Fluoride toothpaste is your friend. Our dentist has recommended not rinsing at all so the teeth soak it up over night (this is revolting but since we have leafy learnt "the spit" not happening here).

Get teeth "bonded", this is free on the NHS and well worth the effort. (Painted with clear thin liquid then light shone on at dentists about 1 min, it will significantly reduce cavities).

Electric toothbrush, timer, they brush then you "check" (by brushing properly). I think we should be independent in say 5 years. grin

Disclosing tablets sound like a brilliant idea.

shutupaboutstarwars Mon 04-Mar-13 00:04:33

think the collis curve toothbrush looks a very good idea. wish I'd known about when I had braces as a teenager.
we do try timetables/lists. he usually has one in his schoolbag to try and get him to remember to bring everything home. he still frequently forgets to pick things up. we do written lists. I think he's look at us a bit wierdly if we tried pictures as his reading is great. (the biggest problem we have with reading is getting him to stop reading and go to sleep, after trial and error we now give him a few minutes warning before it is time to put the light out, recently progressing to finding a good place for him to stop reading and turning the light out himself).
I thought "bonding" had to wait until the adult teeth were properly through. I remember getting mine done but can't actually remember how old I was

Ellenora5 Mon 04-Mar-13 00:17:34

Oh I hear you op, my ds has still not got the hang of it properly and he is 11, have you tried a mirror, if he is watching what he is doing it might help, my dentist also said not to spit out, ds also uses a superbrush, it's three sided if you know what I mean and it makes it a lot easier, also corsodyl gel for the gums is very good, but don't use it for too long, will he floss or would he let you floss, my ds wouldn't,he hated it. I still brush them in the moring and he does them in the evening. Ds had a lot of teeth pulled under anastethic a few months ago and I can't risk that happening again.

zzzzz Mon 04-Mar-13 00:22:54

We use paper clips to stop reading. You count how many pages/chapters, stick a paper clip on the top o he page and read till there.

Pictures are only on condescending if they are presented that way, after all you don't care if there's a triangle woman or "Ladies" written on the door of a toilet.

shutupaboutstarwars Mon 04-Mar-13 00:55:06

never tried flossing with him. I hate flossing, feels wrong so I wouldn't be any good at showing him(my teeth are very close together and I struggle to get the floss down between teeth, even the flat stuff, or it could be some of my own autistic type tendancies appearing) but some of the tarter is forming on the front of the teeth where flossing won't help. and I don't really want to encourage him to put things that could be swallowed like that in his mouth. he will sometimes start chewing on odd things when he gets distracted. and then he can lack to common sense to stop. (similar to the lego incident recently where he got a bit of lego in his nostril and thought he could use his finger to hook it out and just pushed it further in, doctors/nurses in casualty said that they normally see things like that in toddlers not 8 year olds until we mentioned ASD)
I have used corsodyl mouthwash in the past and think that it is such a strong taste that he wouldn't cope with it, is the gel any better? (minty toothpaste is fine)

PolterGoose Mon 04-Mar-13 07:48:02

My ds is a great reader too but we still use visual timetables, like zzzzz says we use visual cues throughout our lives and they can help lots. But even a written timetable is still a 'visual' because it is about removing the need to remember. It just needs to be bold and engaging.

pinkorkid Mon 04-Mar-13 09:27:36

link here: to article from national autistic society with some useful tips in.

I also recently read an article in the Times (can't link because of the paywall) about a natural sugar xylitol which some dentists claim is effective in preventing cavities if taken in correct dose on regular basis. Only known side-effect that it can have laxative effect in large doses.

wikipedia link:

zzzzz Mon 04-Mar-13 09:49:48

This might be the answer to your flossing problems

Flossing will help tartar on the front of the teeth because it will reduce bacteria general.

fasparent Mon 04-Mar-13 12:36:03

Make it a social event, with your self, siberlings etc. , Our 18 month thinks is great cleaning her teeth with Mum, Dad, and sisters.

FeelsSad Mon 04-Mar-13 12:51:09

Adult electric toothbrush with a light on that comes when you press too hard on the brush.
It taught ds how to apply the right amount of pressure (just at the limit when the light comes on).
ds also loved the disclosing tablets they've used at school.
The toothbrush we have also give a little signal every 30s so it tell you when to move on from one area of the mouth to the other (one side, one front, other front and then the last side). ds liked the 'procedure' side of things too.

moosemama Mon 04-Mar-13 13:05:17

Ds's OT recommended the Collis Curve toothbrush for him. He has hypermobility and can't manouvre the toothbrush properly in his mouth, so doesn't manage to clean them effectively.

We are thinking of trying disclosing tablets with him as well. He's also been referred to a SEN dentist by the OT to see if they can offer us any more advice, so that might be worth looking into as well.

PolterGoose Mon 04-Mar-13 14:22:04

Honestly, disclosing tablets have been a godsend here, never thought ds would use them as he is a serious food refuser, but he loves them and get very excited about Sunday bath time when he does his teeth routine. Dentist commented he was doing a great job brushing which was astonishing as he really doesn't brush well at all during the week confused

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