Life as a special needs family can be tough enough as it is. Anything that can make life a little bit easier can be a life saver, especially when it involves the before school routine. With that in mind, I thought I would share the solution I have found for getting my kids with autism to brush their teeth
and do a better job at the same time. We used to struggle with getting our kids to brush their teeth. Bedtime was one thing but when we were running late for school in the morning, it was a real source of frustration, for everyone.
For a long time, tooth brushing was a nightmare and honestly still is at times. However, part of the problem I think, was/is sensory related, meaning that something about brushing their teeth was/is profoundly unpleasant or uncomfortable for my kids. I've spoken with many parents that experience the same struggle with their little one on the spectrum. With my kids, we struggled with the actual motion of the toothbrush and we'd have to fight in order to prevent them from just sucking the toothpaste off the brush at the start. On the good days, we could get them to brush but not for very long. In other words, trying to effectively brush their teeth
was as I mentioned before, a nightmare. My youngest struggles with the most sensory issues and would literally screen and screen, both in the morning and at night when it came time for tooth cleaning. We hated the idea of battling our kids or forcing them to brush because it felt like it sent the wrong message and turned both them and us off to the whole process.
Before I go any further, I want to state that this is not a paid advertisement. I'm in no way shape or form affiliated with Philips. This is based solely on my family's experiences and how we managed to overcome the obstacles associated with our 3 boys with autism, brushing their teeth.
I bought myself a Philips Sonicare
toothbrush as a replacement for my old electric toothbrush. I found one on sale and it wasn't that much more than the usual electronic toothbrush I was normally getting. I had seen the commercials and had always been curious about how they really worked. After using it only once, I can honestly say, I absolutely love this toothbrush
. You have to experience it in order to truly appreciate it. The premise behind it, is simply vibration. Basically, this thing vibrates so fast that it cleans much better and with greater ease than standard brushing. It can be a bit messy while your getting accustomed to it though..so be warned. Anyway, it got me thinking. I wonder how my kids would respond to this. As it turns out they loved it. They love the vibration and how it makes their mouth feel. It gave new meaning to tickling their teeth.
This toothbrush works really well and takes minimal effort or coordination on their part. It also shuts off after two minutes so they know when to stop or how long to brush. It doesn't require a great deal of fine motor skills either as you basically just need to touch the the toothbrush to your teeth
and gums and it does the rest. It also gets in between teeth
as well because the moment you turn it on the toothpaste turns to foam and goes between the teeth
. In my experience, brushing your ASD child's teeth
is tough enough. Flossing is next to impossible. While not necessarily a replacement for flossing, it gets the job done. The way I choose to do this, as it's more cost effective, was to buy one toothbrush ($17-$30) and one package of replacement heads ($17-$27). We provided each of our kids with their own replacement head. They all share the same power supply (or bottom of the brush). This is sanitary and seems to work out pretty well. There are little color bands about halfway down the brush heads that are distinguishing. The kids can also color the base of the brush head with permanent marker, so they know who's is who's.
While not all the kids have been to the dentist since starting this new tooth brushing routine, we can already see the difference. Their gumlines and teeth
are much cleaner and they are doing this on their own. Can you say independence.
Another huge plus,
is that my kids actually enjoy brushing their teeth now. We no longer have to fight to get this job done and done right. I realize in the grand scheme of things this may not seem like a huge victory to some. However, if your family is anything like mine and tooth brushing has been a challenge, this could be a life, sanity and tooth saver. If you are interested, I bought our Philips Sonicare at our Walgreen's for about $19. The OEM replacement brush heads are about $27 for a package of 2. For us it was about a $50 investment in order to accommodate all 3 boys. They each have their own brush heads and share the same base. This has proven to be quite efficient, sanitary and effective. Here is a link to the exact brush we bought: Philips Sonicare e-series Have you had problems getting your child to brush their teeth? Have you found a solution? Please take a moment and share your experience below. You never know when something you have found may really help another family.