A Sensory Adapted Dental Environment

By Dr. Jessica De Bord, Pediatric Dentist

Going to the dentist can be an experience filled with sensory stimulation for anyone . . . strange tastes, odd smells, bright lights, spraying water, and things touching your mouth.  For children with difficulty processing sensory input, which frequently occurs in children with developmental disabilities, going to the dentist can be a big challenge.

dental chair

The Children’s Village dental team always puts a lot of effort into making visits to the dentist a positive experience, and tailoring the experience to each child’s unique needs.  Now there is a new way to help make that happen thanks to a Children’s Village-wide collaboration between Dr. Susan Armstrong (Pediatric Dental Resident), Dr. Emily Bugger (Pediatric Dental Resident), Cindy Carroll (Speech and Language Pathologist and Autism Coach), Dr. Jessica De Bord (Pediatric Dentist), and Debbie Sheppard (Occupational Therapist).

The dental clinic now has a Sensory Adapted Dental Environment!  The dental team can modify the dental environment to remove some of the sensory stimulation for children who are sensitive to it and can create an environment that is more compatible for children with sensory processing difficulties.

The process begins with a survey for parents to fill out (we have them in both English and Spanish) to identify the child’s specific sensory concerns.  Then we have multiple things we can do to the dental room to make it a better fit that child’s unique needs such as: a star projector, calming music, pleasant smells, balls with tactile stimulation, limiting smells and tastes, vibrating pillows, and padded cushions for the dental chair.  The goal is to help children have a positive and comfortable dental experience regardless of what unique needs they may have.

For more information on Pediatric Dental Services at Children’s Village visit us here or call 509 574-3200.


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