Daventry dentist to help autistic children brush their teeth during special appointments

Claudette Gardner
Claudette Gardner

The manager of a Daventry dentist is to hold appointments tailored to children with special education needs who often have difficulty brushing their teeth.

Claudette Gardner, Daventry Dental Care's new practice manager, has divided up her day on October 23 into 30-minute slots to help parents and their autistic children familiarise themselves with teeth brushing.

And Claudette will be speaking from experience - her three-year-old daughter is autistic

"The reason I'm doing it is because I have an autistic child myself and I know how difficult things like teeth and hair brushing can be," said 35-year-old Claudette, from Badby.

"I thought if I could share my knowledge then I would, and now I can."

Claudette explained that brushing teeth is a complex experience for SEN (Special Educational Needs) children because of the feel of the brush, the sound of brushing and the taste and texture of toothpaste.

This often leads to children refusing to brush their teeth.

"It's the sensory issue - the noise, the feel of the paste - they can't process it all at the same time," said Claudette.

"They have a sensory overload and they push it away."

The first set of appointments are designed to help the children familiarise themselves with the dentist chair, the people at the practice and the sensations that come from brushing your teeth.

When they return for a second appointment, Claudette hopes the new-found familiarity will help both the parents and the children and ultimately lead to healthier teeth.

Claudette said: "You need to feel at home in a place they don't go very often so the point is to try out the chair and educate the child."

But it's not just dental advice that Claudette will be handing out on the day; the children will also receive a goody bag to take home.

The announcement of the trial sessions prompted parents to book all but one slot and Claudette said she'll run more appointments during the Christmas holidays.