Expand Your Dental Practice by Becoming a Special Needs Dentist Through Autism Certification

By Dr. Yasmin Kottait, DDS, HDD, Dip CBT, MFDS Ed, MSc

Becoming a Certified Autism Center™ shows parents that you can be their dentist, whether their child has autism or another cognitive disorder or special need. This can help your dental practice grow and distinguish yourself as a leader.

Autism Spectrum and Dentistry

Wondering how to advance your career in service of children with autism?Here is what you need to know.

In 2018, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) determined that approximately 1 in 59 children is diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder (ASD), a 15% increase from the last official report. The numbers are staggering and are on the rise.

But what does that mean to medical and dental professionals? It simply means we will be meeting and treating children on the autism spectrum a lot more than in the past. It also means that we need a new set of tools to help every child that walks into our office become a healthier happier individual.

young boy at the dentist

Autism and Dentistry: A story from my practice

Let me share with you a story of a child I once helped on the spectrum. His parents came to my office complaining that he wakes up at night frequently crying, without any apparent reason. Asking about his sleep habits, they say: pretty turbulent.

Let’s start asking questions to get to the root of the problem: We found out the child prefers pureed food, but this past month he hasn’t been eating much, and he has started losing weight. We uncovered this child has 20/20 decayed teeth. One tooth is even decayed enough that a dental abscess developed underneath. The rest of his teeth are in such terrible state that the nerve of the tooth is exposed and I can say with certainty this kid has pain every time he puts something in his mouth.

Imagine this child’s mouth full of cavities – can you call this child generally healthy? Constantly in pain from his teeth, no food and no sleep?
I think not!

Just to demonstrate how delicate working with a child with autism is – after fixing this child’s teeth, a new version of him emerged. It was like he was born again!

There are Many More Children with Autism Just Like Him

Now think of how many more children you can help move past one of the most common horrible chronic diseases in childhood: tooth decay. This is reason enough why more and more dentists should expand their skills to treat children with special needs. With further training in the field of autism; not only to develop more compassion and awareness, but also to spread more health and happiness to this vulnerable group of children.

I understand Autism Spectrum Disorder definitely offers its fair share of challenges to dental professionals. To treat a child on the spectrum, there are many dental “encounters” to be wary of – from the way the clinic smells, to other children in the waiting room, the moving chair, music in the background, many strange faces, and noisy dental equipment, all of which can lead easily to a massive sensory overload. The unfortunate news is because all this is a recipe for a meltdown, most parents tend to delay taking their child to a dentist, which leaves more and more children victim to the smile-robbing disease called decay.

However, as a Dentist with Certified Autism Specialist (CAS) training, the depth of understanding can be reflected on the treatment of every child that comes under your care and with every parent interaction.

What is the Certified Autism Center™ and how can it help a dental practice?

The International Board of Credentialing and Continuing Education Standards (IBCCES) offers certification programs to licensed professionals and their staff who work with individuals with special needs. The focus of the training and certification is on building understanding and empathy, as well as improving processes and options for individuals with these needs, and ensuring staff have appropriate tools and strategies when engaging with a neurodiverse population.

By implementing a training and certification program you can attract a new loyal patient-base that know your practice has taken extra steps to better serve individuals on the spectrum.

Learn More About Becoming a Certified Autism Center™

Fill out the form below to learn more about our CAC Program, which includes staff certifications, training options and center certification.

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