Sensory Processing Disorder Dental Care For Kids 

Are your children struggling to brush their teeth? In this article I am going to list off some ideas and tips to assist you to get your child to brush their teeth. Does your child have meltdowns, and do they refuse to brush their teeth? Then this article is for you. 

Brushing teeth can be difficult for children with SPD because it make us feel unpleasant sensations. Your child may be hypersensitive or hyposensitive.

I am asked so often about children who have Sensory Processing Disorder and how to get them to brush their teeth. There are many different things you could try to get your child to brush their teeth. 

mom helping her child brush their teeth putting toothpaste on toothbrush Sensory Processing Disorder Dental Care For Kids

Children who have Sensory Processing Disorder may struggle with brushing their teeth due to anxiety, sensory challenges or several other reasons. 

Bring up your concerns with your child's Occupational Therapist as they will also be able to give your strategies to help your child too. 

Children under the age of three should use a grain size amount of toothpaste and a child over three should use a pea sized amount of toothpaste. Children should brush their teeth two times a day and floss once a day. Your child may not have the fine motor skills to floss their own teeth so parents can assist with this until the age of seven. Children should have their first dentist appointment by their first birthday. 

Dental hygiene can be difficult for children who have Sensory Processing Disorder. Here are some helpful tips and ideas you could try because developing great hygiene habits are so important. 

Signs that a child is hyper-sensitive (oral sensory avoiding) typically include dislike of brushing teeth, having their faces wiped, and are usually very picky eaters especially with specific textures. They are usually very particular about being neat and not enjoying messy play or eating.  They also may prefer a very specific type of cup/nipple for a bottle and not able to use other brands. They may also be unwilling to use utensils.  

Signs that a child is hypo-sensitive (oral sensory seeking) may include eating/licking everything. They may often have the tendency to have something in their mouths including non food items.  They usually tend to overstuff their mouths with food and are very messy eaters.  They may like very crunchy foods and foods with a strong flavor such as spicy foods, very sweet/sour foods such as lemons, and very salty foods.  They may be nail biters or chew on clothing. Chewing and sucking on items such as pens, pencils, hair and fingers are common. 

Sensory strategies to assist your child brushing their teeth

1. Consistency is important. Keeping a routine will help ease the anxiety for your child. They will know to expect brushing their teeth every day at the same time.  Visual schedules can also be a great tool to assist your child with a visual, so they know what to expect each day.

2. Choosing the wrong toothpaste can be the reason your child is struggling with brushing their teeth. Some children want unflavored toothpaste while others want different flavors or fluoride free toothpaste. Toothpaste textures can also be a reason that your child doesn't want to brush their teeth. It can take trying several different toothpastes before you find the right one.

3. Finding the right toothbrush can change everything. Your child may want a super soft toothbrush or they may prefer using a vibrating toothbrush. I have seen other parents also use oral swabs to start brushing their child's teeth too. All children are different, with different needs and sometimes you need to try several different brushes before you find the right one. 

4. Be calm, patient and positive. This will help your child be more successful with their dental hygiene. Praise your child as much as possible. They will require a lot of encouragement. 

5. Start with baby steps. Let them hold their own toothbrush. Try letting them feel the toothbrush on their lips and the next next day feeling the toothbrush on their tongue.

6. Model brushing your own teeth for your child. Invite them into the bathroom when you're brushing your teeth and explaining each step along the way. 

7. Your child may need a calming space to brush their teeth or a room with less sensory stimuli. Choose a sensory friendly place to brush teeth and floss. Choose a quiet area with less light. This would be a place they are content and comfortable. A bathroom can sometimes be too overstimulating for a child to begin brushing their teeth. 

8. Try different water temperatures. Some children prefer warm water and other children prefer cold water. If the water is too cold or too hot, this could make your child refuse to brush their teeth. 

9. Rewards and charts can help with accomplishing goals for your child. Start with smaller goals. Collect stickers on a chart. Your child will be proud of themselves while seeing they are accomplishing goals for brushing their teeth and flossing. 

10. Try letting your child brush their teeth in the mirror and watch themselves brush their teeth. Some children prefer to sit while others decide they like to stand more. Often some children prefer to brush their teeth while in the bathtub too.

11. If your child cannot tolerate a toothbrush maybe you could try using a finger brush or a Nuk brush. 

12. Build up a tolerance to brushing their teeth over time by trying each small step. 

13. Finding the right floss can also be as challenging as finding the right toothbrush or the right toothpaste that your child is willing to use. Some children will prefer waxed floss and others prefer unwaxed. There are also different flavors for children too and unflavored if they don't like flavors. There are also kids flosser picks which some children prefer as they are easier for them to floss their own teeth and they enjoy the colors. You may try several different types of floss before you find the one that works for your child. 

14. Timers are great for children who are learning to brush their teeth. Increase the time they brush their teeth by starting with a little amount of time to begin. They can then see a visual for how long they are expected to brush their teeth. Some parents will play a song or sing a song and when the song is over they can stop brushing their teeth. Starting a countdown can also be what your child prefers while brushing their teeth. Sand timer, timer apps or light up sensory timers are all very helpful. 

15. Try not to use threats for your child to brush their teeth. Making threats about cavities, fillings or trips to the dentist can be very scary for a child and may scare them or cause further anxiety when brushing their teeth. 

16. Using oral motor tools and oral motor activities can also help your child. When your child receives a Sensory Processing Disorder diagnosis your child can meet with an Occupational Therapist to discuss your child's sensory diet plan and which oral motor tools and activities would be best for your child and what is age appropriate. Please always consult with a professional. 

17. Remember when we were kids, we had those plaque tablets? They can be so helpful showing your child where they missed the plaque while brushing their teeth. There are also mouthwashes for kids to show them where they have missed places while brushing their teeth. 

18. Trying a weighted vest, heavy work activities, Wilbarger brushing or vibration for your child's sensory diet before trying to brush their teeth can also be helpful for your child. Their sensory needs should be met and your child should be regulated before attempting to start learning the steps for brushing their teeth. 

19. When making your child's first dentist appointment, try finding a pediatric dentist that is knowledgeable with children who have Sensory Processing Disorder or Autism. You can take your child to the dentist office days before to prepare them for the appointment because knowing what to expect will ease their anxieties. 

20. Reading books and social stories about going to the dentist will also be helpful for your child when preparing them for their first dental appointment. 

Dental Care Products For Kids

Sensitive Sam Visits the Dentist
Going to the dentist can be frightening to many kids, but especially those with sensory issues and autism. In her marvelous second book, Marla Roth-Fisch explores a trip to the dentist with our protagonist, Sensitive Sam. Join Sensitive Sam as he learns to understand and overcome his fear of the dentist!

“Having a good first experience with going to the dentist will help a child with autism tolerate the dentist. This book will help children on the spectrum better understand visits to the dentist.

ACT Kids Anticavity Fluoride Rinse Bubble Gum Blowout 16.9 fl. oz. Accurate Dosing Cup, Alcohol Free
Help prevent cavities, strengthen teeth and freshen breath with ACT Kids Anticavity Fluoride Rinse With Accurate Dosing Cup, Alcohol Free, Bubble Gum Blowout, a once-daily mouth rinse formulated to help improve kids' oral hygiene. This ACT Mouth Rinse contains the maximum strength of fluoride available in rinse form without a prescription and is shown to help prevent tooth decay and strengthen teeth. ACT Anticavity Mouthwash for Kids contains no alcohol. Best of all, it comes with an accurate dosing cup for less mess. When it comes to happy smiles, trust the No. 1 dentist recommended kids' brand*. *Among mouth rinses

Triple Bristle Best Kids Sonic Toothbrush | Rechargeable 31,000 VPM Tooth Brush | Patented 3 Brush Head Design | Angled Bristles Clean Each Tooth | Dentist Created & Approved | Sonic Toothbrush 1 Pack
TRIPLE BRISTLE KIDS: Start your child’s oral care journey out on the right path with our kids rechargeable sonic toothbrush. The patented kids sized 3-sided brush head gets the job done in 1/3 the time! Triple Bristle has been scientifically designed with 31,000 sonic stroke vibrations per minute to give your teeth the best possible clean in 1/3 the time of other kids toothbrushes. Includes colorful stickers that will add a little fun to their brushing routine!

Kids Musical Timer for Teeth brushing with 3 Level Volume, 20 Seconds Handwash Timer and 2 Minutes Teeth Brush Timer Musical for Kids Training, Battery Powered Indicator LED Light 3 Level Adjustable Volume : Upgrade a way to control the volume of timer music melody and build-in Button with High, Middle and Low Volume, Timer Reminder with 12 kid songs melody .
More Visual and Audio Timer : Red and Green LED lights to be easy to realize this Timer ON/OFF ,make baby more clear to know Green Light means to Start action , and Light flashes faster when time is almost up
Perfect for Mother or Baby Carer : it develops health habit for brushing teeth training accord to 2 minutes, washing hand with 20 second ,they will give notice to care their teeth health and the led timer give mother more to help to remind their kids
Mounts anywhere. 

Ninjas Go to the Dentist Paperback
Life is hard! And it’s even harder for children who are just trying to figure things out.
The new children’s book series, Ninja Life Hacks, was developed to help children learn valuable life skills. Fun, pint-size characters in comedic books easy enough for young readers, yet witty enough for adults.
The Ninja Life Hacks book series is:
Geared to kids 3-11
Perfect for boys & girls
Early readers
Grades K - 6th grade and up
Excellent resource for counselors, parents, and teachers alike

Melvin Goes to the Dentist 
Melvin Goes To The Dentist is a story for children with special needs and anxieties. It clearly outlines the main events when going to the dentist for the first time to take some of the anxiety and uncertainty out of this new experience. This story has customizable sections to help insert a variety of special needs circumstances to help kids feel connected to the story. Parental guides are filtered throughout the story to give ideas and inspiration to finding solutions to common problems associated with the fear of a new experience.

2 PCS U-Shaped Kids Toothbrush, Soft Manual Training Toothbrush for Kids 6-12 Years 
Silicone manual U-shaped kids toothbrushes for kids 6-12 yeas, make tooth brushing easy and funny for kids.
Made of food-grade silicone, soft, do not hurt the gums 
Kids training toothbrushes groove design, 360 full-around contact and clean teeth.
Package: 2 packs kids toothbrushes, color pink & blue.
These U-shaped kids toothbrushes can be very nice gifts for your kids.

Plaque Disclosing Tablets, Dental Disclosing Tablets, A Teeth Coloring Tablets Plaque Finder Solution to Effectively Remove Plaque and Tartar Buildup
Disclosing Plaque Tablets - Plaque is not easily visible through naked eye which is difficult to remove, therefore these tiny chewable tablets contain a harmless natural dye that adheres to plaque – showing up bright pink or purple. Maintain a good oral hygiene! The Plaque disclosing solution is suggested to use before brushing to clearly demonstrate areas that area mainly built-up by tartar and plaque!

Vekkia Dragon Lord Sonic Rechargeable Kids Electric Toothbrush, 3 Modes With Memory, Fun & Easy Cleaning
USB Fast Charging: the indicator light flashes when charging, full of constant light on.
Mode Guidance: when the tooth brush starts, click within 3 seconds switch mode, after 3 seconds turn off.
Memory Function: no need to re-circulate to choose favorite mode again next time use.
For best brushing results, replace the brush head 3 months (recommended by the dentist).
This power toothbrush has 3 modes (clean 7-12, soft 3-6, massage 12+) with memory function, one on/off mode button, it does not need to be held down. Comfortable handle size designed for small little hands, lightweight only 2.45oz, easy grip. 

Samia and Her Electric Toothbrush: Make brushing your child's teeth more fun and educational with this Dentist approved book. 
Ready to teach your child a fun way to learn about the importance of brushing their teeth? This is the book for families, doctors, and dentists!
What is your child's favorite gadget?
A toy? Maybe it's using your smartphone? Samia's favorite gadget is her pink electric toothbrush!
The main character Samia is based on the real-life YouTuber Samia Ali, a 5-year-old girl who absolutely loves brushing her teeth! She is so passionate about keeping her teeth clean. She even takes her pink electric toothbrush to school for show-and-tell. After all, it's a very special toothbrush that she got for her birthday!
This delightful book follows Samia's healthy morning routine and describes that amazing day when she took her toothbrush to school for a very important mission!

StarSmilez Kids Tooth Brushing Buddy Lil Ollie Mutt - Plush Dental Education Helper - Teach Children flossing and Overall Care for Mouth and Teeth
Motivate kids Explain dental topics Demonstrate clinical procedures Reduce fear in young patients
Teach children brushing and flossing techniques that they remember Tooth brushing buddy includes:
Health library with educational games Brushing charts, Activities, How To’s and Key dental topics
9.5” tall plush Kids toothbrush Mouth with 4 flossible locations Surface washable Fun talks
Plush Ollie Mutt Dog visual aid Teach toddlers to teens with a unique dental helper featuring teeth

Visual Schedule for Kids, 62 Autism Routine Chart Cards Autism Learning Materials Kids Visual Behavioral Tool Wall Planner with 1 Background Plastic Strips Hook and 65 Loop Dots for Home School (Blue)
Package Contents: you will get 62 visual behavior schedule charts for kids, 1 background plastic strip and enough number of dot stickers, equipped with a suitable sized PVC box with enough space to store all your cards, and there has a rope for easy hanging; Sufficient quantity and nice combinations can easily meet your daily study use
Reliable Quality: the bendable visual schedule for toddlers are made of quality material, sturdy, reliable, and waterproof, will not easy to tear or wrinkle, and comes with a sufficient amount of dot glue for easy sticking; These cards are well cut, can be applied and removed multiple times with the included hook and loop tapes

Nuk Brush
Wonderful tools for oral motor stimulation and desensitization. 
Offers valuable sensory input
Provides calming benefits for a sensory diet.
Item not refundable
Latex free

Great oral motor tool for preparing little ones to get acquainted with the feel of a tooth brush. The NUK Brush is a wonderful tool for oral motor stimulation and desensitization. Use also before eating to stimulate chewing and biting. 

Dr. Bob Unflavored Toothpaste - Natural Xylitol Baby, Toddler, Kids Toothpaste with Fluoride for Sensitive Teeth - No Artificial Flavors, SLS-Free, Dye-Free, Flavorless for Children -Made in USA- 4oz
KIDS WITH SENSITIVITIES: Our flavor-free toothpaste is great for kids & adults with taste sensitivities. Our unflavored formula will not leave a bad taste in their mouths
PREMIUM ORAL HEALTH: Our unflavored toothpaste is made for adults & children of all ages. Fluoride toothpaste offers tartar control, enamel repair, cavity prevention, reduced plaque, & oral health
NATURAL TOOTHPASTE: Made from all-natural, plant-based Xylitol with no harsh chemicals, & no artificial flavors or colors, Dr. Bob's is SLS-free, gluten-free, titanium dioxide-free, & dye-free.

The Brushies Baby & Toddler Toothbrush, Chomps The Dino
Our founding characters – Willa, MoMo, Pinkey and Chomps – are finger puppet toothbrushes that team up to fight sugar bugs. Choose from Momo the Monkey, Willa the Whale, Chomps the Dino and Pinkey the Pig when it’s brushing time! All four Brushies work together to make brushing fun.

Listerine Smart Rinse Mouthwash - Alcohol and Sugar Free Mouthwash A fun and easy way to protect teeth for kids aged 6+- Helps protect against cavities- Cleans what brushing misses Listerine Smart Rinse is a fluoride mouthwash that helps protect your child's teeth against cavities when used twice daily after brushing.- Contains fluoride, which strengthens teeth and reduces cavities by up to 40% more than brushing alone.- Kills bad bacteria, a major cause of plaque and gum disease.- Goes around the whole mouth reaching teeth, gums and tongue. It attracts and tints the bits that brushing misses, showing your child the proof in the sink.

HOM Charts help with early childhood development. Designed for Parents, by Parents of Children with Special Needs. 100% Sealed and Laminated so it can be put up safely anywhere. Help your children learn to brush their own teeth with our step-by-step system. As Parents of a Child with Autism, Charts and Schedules have been crucial in raising our children. Your child will enjoy following along and gain confidence as they learn to take care of themselves. Universal Charts are helpful for all Children not just those with Special Needs. Now parents can relax knowing they don't have to complete every phase of tooth brushing with their Children as our system helps them to complete these tasks themselves. It is used in ABA and OT, and is a helpful tool for any Family. With HOM's all new Step-By-Step Chart System Parents can be comforted as you see your Child grow in independence and confidence. 

Extra Soft Toothbrush for Sensitive Gums and Teeth. Micro Nano Toothbrushes with 20,000 Ultra Soft Aloe Infused Bristles. Excellent Cleaning Effect (2 Pack) (Aloe Wave Bristle) With more than 20,000 super soft Aloe infused bristles, our micro Nano Toothbrush is specially designed for hypersensitivity. Aloe has natural properties that can help with gingivitis, gum infections, periodontitis and other irritation occurring in the mouth. Great Extra Soft Toothbrushes for adult and kids.
Great Choice For Sensory Challenges
Micro Nano Toothbrush specially designed for hypersensitivity. Our customers have found our toothbrush helpful with kids and adults with autism, ADHD and SPD

Jack N' Jill Natural Kids Toothpaste - Flavor Free - Organic, Gluten Free, Vegan, BPA Free, Fluoride Free, SLS Free, Dairy Free - Make Toothbrushing Fun for Kids - 1.76 oz
MAKING TOOTHBRUSHING FUN FOR KIDS - Our Jack N’ Jill Toothpaste in Flavor Free makes toothbrushing ultra mild but still yum for kids. Young children have a tendency to swallow instead of spitting out, but you can rest assured as this toothpaste is safe if swallowed
WE HAVE OUR OWN KIDS TOO! - We know how hard it is to get young ones to brush - or allow parents to brush - which is why we want it to be a yummy and fun experience for them, as well as safe. Good toothpaste is hard to make, so we set out to make toothpaste without noxious chemicals

Fresh Knight Plaque disclosing tablets contains advanced disclosing agents, that allows quick identification of problem areas for plaque as we all know Plaque can be a big problem for our teeth. Every time we eat and drink, food an bacteria build up on teeth and form something called plaque. Removing plaque from your teeth helps prevent cavities and overall tooth decay. Fighting plaque is one of the easiest ways to keep your mouth fresh, which is why it is so important to build a routine of brushing your teeth morning and evening. But what if you can't tell if you are properly brushing? That is where plaque disclosing tablets can be a great tool for your teeth, to show you if you and your children are brushing properly

My Brushing Chart: Toothbrush Reward Chart For Kids
Look for ways to engage your children in brushing?
Make brushing teeth fun for your kids with this tooth brushing incentive chart.
An oral hygiene chart can make brushing fun and rewarding.
53 Weeks
Morning and Night
Monday to Sunday

Triple Bristle GO | Portable AA Battery Sonic Toothbrush for Travel | Three Brush Modes | Soft Nylon Bristles - Great for Autistic & Special Needs Adults and Kids | Triple Bristle GO
The dentist created three sided sonic toothbrush, the Triple Bristle. This unique three sided toothbrush was designed to help take the guesswork out of brushing. The soft angled bristles clean all sides of your teeth at once, helping you obtain a brighter, whiter smile in 1/3 the time. Swap your single sided toothbrush for the Triple Bristle and discover a new way to help maintain your oral health.

60-Minute Visual Timer, Silent Study Timer for Kids and Adults, Time Management Countdown Timer for Teaching (Starry Sky)
What can you get done in 60 minutes? Improve time management, perform tasks effectively, complete your work, and encourage productive learning with the 60-minute visual countdown timer. Highlights: No loud ticking.
Turn the dial clockwise to adjust the time. To turn the timer off—simply turn back to zero. * New Function * Push the button to stop the alarm beep when the time is up. Or to pause during the countdown, the indicator light will illuminate red, push the button again to restart the countdown. 
A Proven Tool to Increase Self-Regulation -- visual timer features a blue disc that makes it easy for children to visually understand the passage of time, effectively manage their time and daily routines, and combat procrastination and poor time awareness.

3-PK :: DenTrust 3-Sided Toothbrush :: Easily Brush Better :: Clinically Proven Results :: Fast, Easy & More Effective for The Whole Family :: Adults, Children, Special Needs, Autism
Buy the best. Offers the ultimate solution because of the bristles ability to clean teeth and offers extra gum protection.
Helps improve your dental and oral hygiene habits automatically lessening the risk for gingivitis, tooth decay and gum disease.
Want an easier, more beneficial tooth brushing experience for you and your family? The soft bristles brush off plaque and offers quick access to all 3 sides of the teeth in one brushing stroke.

Here are some more helpful Sensory Processing Disorder Resources

DISCLAIMER: I am not an Occupational Therapist. I am an adult who has Sensory Processing Disorder, a sensory parent and a Grandma. The information on this website is not medical advice and does not replace the information that your child's therapists gives you. These are just ideas and information that I have learned myself over the years of being a parent and an adult living with SPD. If you are concerned for your child, please always seek medical attention through a family doctor, pediatrician or therapist. This website is for suggestions and informational purposes only. Each child is different and what works for one child may not for another because all children have different needs. Please always consult with a professional.

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