Treating Patients With Sensory Processing Disorder

Illustration representing a patient with sensory processing disorder

Neurodiverse Patients Deserve Dental Care, Too

People experience and interact with the world around them in very different ways. While some ways of moving through the world may be more “typical” than others, there is no one right way to think, behave, learn, or respond to everyday stimuli. Neurodiverse people and those who experience sensory processing disorder may find some day-to-day activities and events overwhelming or difficult to navigate. And that may make routine visits to the dentist especially challenging for neurodiverse kids and adults alike. 

At Bass Dentistry, we welcome patients who seek sensory-friendly care. We understand that the sights, sounds, and other stimuli accompanying dental care can feel like a lot to handle. However, avoiding the dentist isn’t the answer. Neurodiverse patients of all ages — including those who experience sensory processing disorder, autism, ADHD, anxiety, and more — deserve excellent dental care. That’s why our team provides accommodations to make dental care more comfortable and accessible for every single patient.

Illustration of toothpaste tubes squirting out toothpaste in the shape of question marks

What is sensory processing disorder?

Sensory processing disorder, also known as SPD, is a condition that affects how your brain processes sensory information. Both children and adults can experience SPD, and the symptoms are often linked to other neurodivergences like autism or ADHD. SPD may be specific to one sense (like hearing, touch, or taste) or affect multiple senses. Sensory processing disorder usually means you’re overly sensitive to stimuli that most people are not. However, some people with SPD underreact to sensory input and seek out extra stimulation to function.

Illustration of a happy tooth surrounded by swirls to represent sensory processing

Preparing for your dental treatment

If you’re an adult with sensory processing disorder, chances are you’ve learned a lot about managing it daily. Adults with co-occurring diagnoses may need additional support when preparing for a dental appointment. And children with SPD definitely feel more comfortable in the dentist’s office with thorough preparation. In any case, communication is key

When you make an appointment for yourself or another person with SPD, please share that information. Let us know what kind of stimulus is triggering so we can ask the best follow-up questions and plan the appropriate accommodations. Don’t be afraid to ask questions about the accommodations available to support you or your loved one during their appointment.

Visiting or seeing pictures of the office and staff in advance can reduce anxiety for people experiencing SPD. Talk about what will happen at the appointment or even role-play at home before the dental treatment. Taking the time to reduce the unknowns in a potentially overwhelming situation can make all the difference.

Illustration of our therapy dog, Fender

Strategies for supporting our neurodiverse patients

The team at Bass Dentistry uses multiple strategies to ensure our neurodiverse patients feel safe and supported. We offer sunglasses to block out bright lights and noise-canceling headphones to muffle unpleasant sounds. Some of our patients benefit from the pressure of a weighted blanket, as it reduces a quickened heart rate and other anxiety symptoms. End-of-day appointments are available for patients who prefer a less busy atmosphere. Additionally, we’re happy to turn on a TV screen or music to engage stimulation seekers. And our resident therapy dog, Fender, is always available to provide a friendly, calming presence.

We are passionate about making dental care accessible and comfortable for everyone who needs it. Our warm, inclusive staff will go the extra mile to ensure your visit is a low-stress experience. Ask us about sensory-friendly care when you book your next appointment. We’ll help you find the comfort you need for the care you deserve.

Healthy Gums,
Healthy Life

Your dental impressions will be a breeze with iTero. We can’t wait to provide you with comfortable, accurate imaging and excellent dental care. Your oral health is essential; we’re here to make dental care more delightful. Book an appointment online or call us at 704.864.9949 to learn more about our intraoral scanner.

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